APTElan Residency ‘Water Jigs’



12:60 / 13:20 / 9/8

We live by 12:60 time, 12 months in a year and 60 minutes in an hour. A second is flexible, in viewing the second hand we feel we have the power to change the duration of the time between one number and the next. Try it now . . .

Before clocks we slept with seasons; before lamps, by the setting sun. Previous ancient civilisations lived by 13:20 time; 13 referring to the 13 articulations of the body, such as the hip joint, knee, wrists and neck, 20 referring to the number of fingers and toes. This referred to a direct physical relationship with our surroundings. Like 12:60 time, it is unique to our species; how we passed through the landscape. I read (once) a spider has 48 knees. This means its interaction with the physical world is alien to us. The way it physically connects with tangible world is alien to us. In the valley, there is also grasshopper time, bird time and tree time. There is also the speed of the night, the pace of the sky and the movements of  plants.

Elan is shaped by eons of water time, the time that in the early history of the planet replaced the dominance of sun time. This was an era before the oceans formed and the planet was cooling. While still strong in nature, sun’s time has been demoted in our lives by the electric light bulb, we now could truly live outside of natural time and distance ourselves from the rhythms of the planet, unwillingly. At this point we moved to a position of conflict with the world which allowed us to be born into.

Excerpt from Notebook 01/12/15

Sometime when the sun was beginning to set earlier and its warmth was starting to diminish, (what we may call mid-September), I was walking on the hilltops high above Garreg Ddu reservoir. Walking against the flow of a small brook, I became aware of a rapid tapping with a regular rhythm. It was almost a regular ticking but had a pause every few beats, like a slip-jig in folk music in 9/8 time. I took some recordings. I returned the following day when the sun was directly above my head. Now the rhythm was slower, the sun heating the path, the flow reduced; I made further recordings. Listening back, the subtle tonal changes as the water trickled through shards of slate could be translated into notes of music.

Excerpt from Notebook 26/09/15


Elan Water Jig #15 from Richard Higlett on Vimeo.

APTELAN water jig #6 from Richard Higlett on Vimeo.


The APTElan residency is an opportunity to experience deep time, a place to work outside expectation. It is a place to think differently. On my first visit I took one book, Olaf Stapledon’s 1937 novel Star Maker, with a self-imposed remit not to learn any history or gather information about the valley I was about to live within. An exercise in the value of experience over knowledge. Stapledon’s tale of a man travelling across the universe encountering new civilisations had its moment of symbolic clarity on the third day when I read in the sun. Insects were attracted to the bleached white pages of the book; landing on the text to be confronted with a monochrome system of ink shapes. As I read, flies would explore the paths of texts with their own senses, a maze of ink, this alien surface echoing the main protagonist’s journey in the novel.

Excerpt from Notebook 28/09/15

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