There are so many positively crazy people in the world doing super interesting experiments which fall under the category of #lifelogging that we thought to start sharing those stories with you, guys. Of course, some of these experiments were never thought of as lifelogging or #QuantifiedSelf – they were made years ago when both terms were not even born. Yet they existed. And do inspire us, question human nature and push the boundaries as the experiment we are introducing today – Tehching Hsieh‘s One Year Performance 1980-1981 (or Time Clock Piece as it’s informally known) during which for 365 days the Taiwanese-born performance artist punched the time clock every hour and took a #selfie in his Manhattan studio. In numbers that’s 8627 shots compressing a year into a 6 minute movie. The work labeled “seminal”, “legendary” and “inspirational”.

In STATEMENT the artist says:

I, SAM HSIEH, plan to do a one year performance piece.

I shall punch a Time Clock in my studio every hour on the hour for one year.

I shall immediately leave my Time Clock room, each time after I punch the Time Clock.

The performance shall begin on April 11, 1980 at 7 P.M. and continue until April 11, 1981 at 6 P.M.

There’s also an explanation and self-fraud prevention policy named “Explanation of Procedure for Sam Hsieh’s One Year Performance” (both documents accessible at the artist’s website):

In order to avoid any suspicion of cheating on the piece, I have prepared the following steps:

1. I shall have a witness sign each of the 366 time cards for the total one year performance. He will sign a statement agreeing not to sign any additional time cards. He will also sign and seal the Time Clock. At any time repair or adjustment of the Time Clock is needed, he will return and witness it.

2. With a 16mm movie camera, I shall document each time I punch the Time Clock by shooting one frame. At the completion of the performance, the witness will confirm that the film is unedited.

3. To help illustrate the time process, I shall begin the performance with my head shaved bald and allow my hair to grow back naturally

Tehching Hsieh with the Time Clock

Imagine yourself every single hour of every single day getting into the room and punching the clock. Might be fun for the first few weeks, but then the tiredness kicks in – you can’t get a proper sleep by waking up every single hour. Wouldn’t you ask yourself “And why exactly am I pushing myself so far? Is it worth it?” Isn’t this an awesome test for determination and willpower?  Time clock was to be punched 8,760 times during the year and Hsieh failed to punch the clock only 133 times (mostly due to oversleeping and not hearing the super loud alarm clock).

In one interview, asked whether there is “a particular sort of freedom to be found in self-imposed constraint” Tehching Hsieh answered: “…The freedom found in the confinement is what one could find in a difficult situation, it is a way to understand life”. 

We wish all of us are able to understand life better via #lifelogging.


A short video from the exhibition in Beijing

Artist website

Currently showing: at Carriageworks (Sydney) until July 6, 2014

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