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AAJ Press
A&AJ Critical Writing, Commissions & Projects, Installation, Light

Alunatime Clock at Trinity Buoy Wharf, East London

Trinity Buoy Wharf "Alunatime" Clock

THE world’s first tidal-powered moon clock, which measures astronomical and tidal data has been installed at Trinity Buoy Wharf (TBW), East London, on the full moon, at 20.15 on Friday 22nd October 2010. The 5-metre high clock has a ‘station clock’-style steel housing and two faces each featuring 5,000 LED lights encased in 1.2m-wide glass rings that electronically display local Alunatime.  Alunatime is the name for the illumination of light, which flows slowly and continuously around the structure in a clockwise direction. TBW’s moon and tide time has been calculated by Proudman Oceanographic Laboratory from the harmonic analysis of river geography, local tide gauges and astronomical algorithms. Viewers can follow the phase and position of the Moon, and the height of the tides by observing the illumination of Alunayime’s three rings.

Wax & Wane: The largest ring, the Lunar Phase, shows the wax and wane of the Moon – a process that takes 29.5 calendar days. At New Moon the unlit ring begins to gradually ‘wax’ on. By Full Moon, the whole ring is illuminated, the circle of light complete. The ring then ‘wanes’ back to its unlit state, and at the next New Moon the cycle begins again.

Rise & Set: The 24 hour 50 minute Lunar Day is represented by a smaller light that points directly to the Moon’s position in the sky. When the Moon is below our horizon the ring is lit below your feet.

Ebb & Flow: A smaller band of light follows the progress of the tides. High at high tide and low at low tide, this cycle takes 12 hours 25 minutes. Synchronised at a ratio of 2:1, the Lunar Day and Tide cycles are Aluna’s ‘heartbeat’.

The housing will be mounted on top of built from a recycled cast-iron pillar with a decorated and inscribed concrete base as a seating area. It is sited in an astronomacal cluster of time markers close to the Greenwich Meridian and opposite the Millennium dome, which is symbolically constructed around 12 pylons to mark the calendar months and is exactly 365-metres in diameter.

Alunatime is a commemoration of the past, present and future industrial, maritime, and technological achievements of the site. This sculpture is a smaller test version of a larger Alunatime, five-storeys tall and 40metres wide, planned to be installed in 2013 with a final location still to be decided.

It was created by artist Laura Williams in collaboration with electronic design engineer Simon Jones, artist blacksmith Andrew Baldwin, artist Ian Robert Felton, Proudman Oceanographic Laboratory and Trinity Buoy Wharf.

The TBW Alunatime Clock has been funded by the Royal Astronomical Society and the Trinity Buoy Wharf Trust.

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About jeh

Jeremy Hunt is Director of the AAJ Press (Art & Architecture Journal / Press) – a writer and consultant on art and public space

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