Permanent Projection


Tobie Langel (Switzerland)


A humorous projection which takes us back to a simpler time, before digital. 

Helvetictoc’s witty use of language is a tribute to life before smartphones and the almost forgotten act of asking someone for the time and a homage to an iconic typeface and the nation of clockmakers from which it came.  This humorous projection reminds us of how technology can de-humanise us.

Reading time in words, rather than from a clock face, activates different parts of the brain and forces us to pause and respond to time differently. The randomly generated sentences, the tone, and the relative imprecision is reminiscent of long-lost interactions with strangers when asking for the time was a much more common ice-breaker.

Originally a professional jazz drummer, Tobie Langel accidentally turned web developer some time ago and is now a software engineer at Facebook, which he also represents at the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C). Although his minor in fine arts is the only thing he managed to complete before dropping out of college, Tobie Langel has no formal artistic training.

Helvetictoc is a permanent artwork in Millennium Place, Durham.

See Helvetictoc in action, visit


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