THE PROMETHEUS CLOCK

The Prometheus Clock provides users with the experience of being inside the head of Prometheus, the Greek god of fire. Bearing a constant mental stream of man’s experiences affected Prometheus, a titan, to the extent that he empathized more with humanity rather than his own kind. The Prometheus Clock compiles the latest content added to YouTube in real time, creating a visual barometer of human experience. Each cell on the geodesic dome represents one human experience, but together create a moment-to-moment snapshot of life on planet Earth.

The 14 ft geodesic dome was constructed from steel tubing, and projection scrim. Below the dome sits a projector attached to a computer running a custom built OpenFrameworks application. We used MadMapper to isolate each video to each cell of the dome.

The Prometheus Clock was on display in April 2012 at the Fresh Media art exhibit in Boston, the MFA Thesis show at MassArt in May 2012, The American Repertory Theater in Cambridge, MA in 2012, the Mazmanian Gallery at Framingham State College, The Fourth Wall Gallery in Boston, MA in 2013, and Fresh Tilled Soil's uxFest in October 2013.

This project began during an independent study I was conducting with Dr. Mara Wagner from the Boston Graduate School of Psychoanalysis during my MFA thesis year at MassArt. I designed the independent study to explore the development of tools that might support the self-identification process in analytic patients.

After discussing my interest in researching, designing, and building environments in which members of a community might safely share their vulnerabilities in order to create empathic connection with fellow community members, Mara asked me to read the myth of Prometheus. I soon realized that I had more in common with Prometheus than I had ever realized.

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Understanding the Character

Here’s the thing. I knew that Prometheus was the Greek god of fire. I knew that he was given that name after he stole fire from Zeus, and presented it to humanity. But what I didn’t know was ‘why’ he did it. 

It turns out that Prometheus had the gift (or curse) of foresight, granting him the ability to see things before they happened. Cool, right? Except that his foresight included not only his own experience, but the experience of every human on Earth as well. The experience of having the human struggle constantly pulsing through his head caused Prometheus to empathize more with human beings than his own kind, the titans. He couldn’t understand why the gods had access to fire while humanity was struggling without it. 

Combine all that with a nasty case of Oedipal Complex, and you are “bound” (get it?) to run into some hairy situations. Did I mention Prometheus helped Zeus kill Cronus in a revolt against the titans, essentially making Zeus his father-figure.

The most endearing aspect of Prometheus’ tale, is that he followed through with the whole fire transaction, fully aware that he would be punished for it. He sacrificed himself for all of eternity so that humanity could have access to a tool that would expand their capacity for potential in both positive and negative ways.