You Are Here, and Now

by Nick Glossop on December 31, 20134 comments

The Orloj Astrolabe

More than just your average timepiece, the Old Town Clock of Prague, or Orloj, can tell you what time it is and what date. It also tells you what the heavens should look like from where it stands. It tells you what time to expect sun rise and set, what lunar phase the moon should appear in, and even which Zodiacal sign is in ascendence. Elsewhere on the tower, there is an Apostle Walk. In the way it combines Christian characters, knowledge of astronomy, and elements of the mystic, all powered by, then, state of the art engineering, the Orloj offers a fascinating window on the Renaissance mind.

Orloj Schema



The 600th anniversary of the tower’s founding was celebrated this year in suitably exceptional fashion as the whole of its history (and the history of Prague) as well as it’s construction and workings was depicted against it in light and sound. The tower itself serves in the show as canvas, setting, recurrent theme, anatomy subject, main character and witness.

The 600 Years from the macula on Vimeo.

According to the Macula Project:

the goal is to achieve perfect symbiosis and satisfy audio-visual nihilism… …The main objective is to use projections tailored to the selected surface or object to shatter the viewer’s perception of perspective… …Everything becomes an illusion.

Perhaps, but the Orloj is still there, telling time and bearing witness. Interestingly a macula is a spot on the retina of the eye. It is also a dark spot on a planet or moon, and it is the proper name for a Mortal Sin in Catholic theology. Can one observe guiltlessly?

Happy New Year to all.

Originally posted Dec. 31, 2010

4 comments

Barry Loewen on December 31, 2011 at 9:19 pm. #

This clock sounds like it is based on the 2000 year old device found on the island of Antikythera in Greece. It did all of the same things with finely crafted metal wheels and gears. That knowledge kept alive throughout the Early and Middle Ages as documented in Jo Marchant’s book “Decoding the Heavens” published in 2009.

Andrew Loewen on December 31, 2011 at 9:47 pm. #

Barry, my youngest and heppest uncle (of many)! Thanks for commenting.

Barry Loewen on January 2, 2012 at 8:49 am. #

‘Twas artist and Professsor and friend Keith Harder (U of A) that twigged me to the Antikythera device. Brain candy. But hey, you led me to this site. So thanks to you!

Nick Glossop on January 2, 2012 at 10:14 am. #

Brain candy – is there a better kind?