17. Helvetictoc

Tobie Langel (Switzerland)


Swiss software engineer and jazz musician Tobie Langel's projection is an unlikely and witty tribute to an icon of 20th century graphic design. Helvetictoc originated as a small web application combining a number of Langel's interests: typography, minimalism, randomness, humanisation of digital user interfaces, and the perception of time.

Reading time in words rather than reading it from a clock face activates other parts of the brain and pushes us to pause and "feel" time. The randomly generated sentences, the tone, and the relative imprecision remind us of long-lost interactions with strangers when asking the someone for the time was a much more common ice-breaker.

About the artist

Originally a professional jazz drummer, Tobie Langel accidentally turned web developer some time ago and is now a software engineer at Facebook which he also represents at the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C). Although his minor in fine arts is the only thing he managed to complete before dropping out of college, Tobie Langel has no formal artistic training.

To see Helvetictoc in action, visit helvetictoc.com/.


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