Seeking a Meridian


Seeking a Meridian examines the contradictions of measures of time and the abstraction of temporal experience in contrast with its physical reality. In this critical moment of rapid technological advancement and human disembodiment in time, this project seeks to understand time and its relationship to matter and memory. Presented in 2011 at Galerie de Roussan, Paris, the project included three photographic series, a painting installation, a cast bronze sculpture, and a photoroman book and essay.

The Seeking a Meridian photoroman is a creative publication that presents two of the exhibition’s photographic series in the form of a visual essay woven with a fictional story. The text leaps from the images as the narrator is drawn to the Greenwich meridian and witnesses the desire of others to gather there as well.

Seeking a Meridian

This photo essay comprises a series of 37 images taken at the Greenwich Meridian, the supposed zero line of time. Using an embodied photography method, I documented the behaviour of visitors who appear drawn to align themeselves with the line. The photographs in this series also serve as the core narrative for the Seeking a Meridian photoroman, available above.

Seeking a Meridian, photographic series, Lily Hibberd, 2011.

The Metre

This sculpture began with the desire to recreate the original 1799 metre measure by É́tienne Lenoir, one of the first metric rulers to be commissioned by the French Republic. After much searching, one day by pure chance, I stumbled on a piece of petrified timber in my back garden. The wood was heavily decayed, yet also clearly scored with a series of fine lines at regular six centimetre intervals. There was no explantation for this ruler that I could find. But I found its system of measure as arbitrary as the metre itself, so I turned the stick into a copy of Lenoir's metre measure.

The Metre, solid cast bronze, 2011. Photo: Alex Lyne.

Cast in solid bronze, this object embodies the decay of all material things as well as the impossibility of standard measurements. From original the 1799 prototype by É́tienne Lenoir, I reproduced the original words 'MODELE' and 'METRE' as they had been engraved on that brass measure. As a material, bronze itself harks back to the tools of the ancients. Displayed low to the floor, the object emerges from the ground, as the rotting stick arose from the soil in my garden.

Crystalline Time

This series of 7 photographs were taken at the Museum of Natural History in London, following the visit to Greenwich Meridian. The crystals are not only powerful vessels of time, their encasement in the museum vitrine creates reflections that evoke cinematic time.

Longitude 21/21

This photo essay documents a 24-hour journey across the globe. The series reveals the difference between the time of travel and global timekeeping, experiencing it 'as the crow flies,' from the shortest to the longest day of the year in both north and south hemispheres.

Starting from the Prime Meridian, Greenwich, the documentation commences at 12 midday on 21 December. One photograph is then taken every hour of the trip for the entire journey to the artist's home in Melbourne, Australia. Playing cards are drawn at random, onto which time that has passed is recorded. Though it seems like a game, the act revives the forgotten numeric link between playing cards and calendars, in which the accumulation of all the cards in a pack totals 364.

The Speed of Light

(after Leon Foucault)

An installation of 6 panels in oil, acrylic and photoluminescent paint on wood with inlaid mirror that restages the speed of light experiment realised by French physicist Léon Foucault in 1862.

Time Projects