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What’s with that clock at the Carnegie Museum of Art? Wait for ‘Nightime’ |
Art & Museums

What’s with that clock at the Carnegie Museum of Art? Wait for ‘Nightime’

Carnegie Museum of Art
The 'Light Clock' on the plaza at the Carnegie Museum of Art

There’s been an addition to the plaza in front of the Carnegie Museum of Art in Oakland since Aug. 26. It looks like an old department store or town square clock — but with a few subtle differences.

It ticks like a clock, but it has only one hand, and there’s a smaller round object perched on its top.

To find out what it is and what it’s doing there, you should visit the nine-hour “Nightime” event Sept. 9, says Jonathan Gaugler, the museum’s media relations manager.

All the museum is revealing in advance is that the clock is part of a new interactive installation associated with “Lightime,” a yearlong slate of programming from the Hillman Photography Initiative. The installation is designed to measure and visualize time.

“Once you see it, you’ll get it,” Gaugler says.

“Nightime” features family-friendly performances and activities, along with special features geared toward teens, from 7 to 10 p.m., followed by a late-night 18-and-older dance party until 4 a.m. Food trucks will be on the scene until 10 p.m.

“Lightime” will include four new projects by artists Alisha B. Wormsley and Andrea Polli, cinematographer Bradford Young and the artist collective DIS. The works will employ photography’s measurement of light and time to investigate contemporary social issues, says Divya Rao Heffley, senior program manager of the Hillman Photography Initiative.

Launching in November will be “Light & Environmental Sustainability” by Polli, a University of New Mexico associate professor of art and ecology. Polli created “Particle Falls,” a 2014 waterfall-like light installation on the facade of the Benedum Center that changed color as software detected particulate pollution in the surrounding air.

Polli says her “Lightime” project will include illuminating the Rachel Carson Bridge for the city’s 2016 Light Up Night, with power from “very innovative vertical wind turbines” made by Strip District-based WindStax Wind Power Systems, along with outreach projects, workshops and a book.

“We’ll be making a nanogrid to make the production of power visible,” she says. “A project like this can only be done for the first time in Pittsburgh. I find the Pittsburgh community incredibly engaged in high-tech and environmental issues, especially advocacy for cleaner air, which fits my work perfectly.”

In early 2017, New York-based DIS will unveil “Light & Perception,” a project on the way computational photography changes the way we see people, places and things in the virtual world.

Next summer will see the premiere of “Light & Movement” by award-winning cinematographer Young, whose work includes “Selma.” Young’s video project will use Pittsburgh’s tunnels as metaphors for the Great Migration of African-Americans from the rural South to urbanized regions of the United States.

“Light & Social Justice” by local artist Wormsley will debut in fall 2017, with a series of artist-led installations on vacant or abandoned properties in Homewood that will look at the past, present and future of the community.

Formed in 2011, the Hillman Photography Initiative is an incubator for innovative thinking about photography, Heffley says.

“We’re looking at themes of the moment and working on a very quick time schedule, in two-year cycles, one year for planning and one year for programming,” she says. “We’re surveying the field to know what’s current and exciting. The most exciting issue in photography today is how photography measures and is contingent on light and time.”

Shirley McMarlin is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach her at 724-836-5750 or

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