The Enigmatic Face of Time

The light effects associated with the LED objects created by Paris-based sculptor and industrial designer Alainpers entice the viewer into a world where time can be experienced. Silicone plays a hidden but indispensable role in his work.

The half dozen clocks in Alain Persouyre’s small studio are strangely silent: no familiar ticktock can be heard. Visitors don’t immediately recognize the timepieces for what they are, as the clocks have no hands. Instead, points of light appear on the walls; sometimes they flash. Glass rings suspended from the ceiling gradually fill with blue lights. A ray of light suddenly flashes across one of four quadratic, monochrome images hanging on the wall. It disappears as rapidly and as abruptly as it appeared.

“That was one second. The images are part of a series. Together they create a clock on the wall,” says the 56-year-old artist, whose artistic name is Alainpers, smiling as he looks around his office. “This here is my own little universe. Time has always fascinated me. My goal is to show time in a new and unfamiliar way.”

Alain Persouyre in his studio: the 56-year-old light artist is actually an electrical engineer by training. It was his work in industrial design that introduced him to art.

And indeed, his clocks resemble sculptures, architectural installations or contemporary works of art. His very first major project broke with all conventional notions of clocks: Alainpers joined three glass spheres, mounted one above the other, and placed them in the center of a rotating stainless steel ring. Droplets of water dyed blue drip from the upper receptacle through to the lowest one – much like an ancient Greek water clock or clepsydra. When an hour has elapsed, the glass spheres automatically turn and the passage of time is measured anew. The whole structure is synchronized with an LED display worked into the built-in mount where the full hour is displayed. Over three meters tall, this time display graces the entrance of a high school in Rueil-Malmaison, a suburb south west of Paris.