The nature of three observers and time: You may be three separate characters, three separate people, three separate worlds, but you are connected, you influence each other, you observe each other.  You are intertwined in history.  You make change that becomes all of your reality.  You move forward the time that you all observe.


The Social Clock of Interaction and History


Setup: Put a large, white piece of paper on the floor.

Start with n people.

Say the following to the people:

“Take a bold, drawing utensil of a particular color.  This is your character.  Get onto the paper on your knees and move by moving your knees.  Put your character onto the paper.  Because your character can only know so much and sense so far, you can only look straight down as you move.  As you move around, your character will move according to your will, but your character must move continuously—you cannot lift your character, it cannot fly.  Do not move your character outside the bounds of the paper.  Do not talk, do not communicate with anything but the movement of your character.  Interpret that how you wish.

Consider that the paper is the ‘world.’  As you move your character, you make history, which other characters/people can observe as they get close enough.  Consider how you want them to ‘remember you’ as you move around and live your life for the duration you exist on the paper.  Perhaps you want to build structures that other characters can enjoy, move around in, and explore, making more interesting structures.  Perhaps you want to write graffiti others will remember.  Perhaps you want to work with others to create something.  Perhaps you want to stay in isolation, avoiding others you come near.  Live your short life as you see fit.”

Allow start: all n people to move their characters for M minutes.

At the conclusion, allow them to lift their characters/utensils and step off of the paper.


The Execution

I am extremely grateful to the three people, Maia, Michael, and Connie, who helped me with the execution of this algorithm.  Here are several images of them drawing and the final work:

You can see the final drawing on the bottom, modified for easier viewing.  The three people had three distinct styles of drawing that occasionally intersected on the great paper.

On the top is a drawing in blue done by Maia.  She told me that as her “person” was moving, she was thinking of music, of Rachmaninoff and Shostakovich.  If you look carefully, you can see the elaborate dancing of her character, which finally ended in an intense blue jittering near the top of the paper.

The light blue lines were done by Michael.  I was very moved when he told me that he was, in a sense, having his character enact out his autobiography.  His style is full of boxes and concrete shapes, of buildings he has visited, of paths between them that he frequents.

Connie did the adorable renderings in purple in the lower right.  Her art moved into the work of others: her cat infiltrates the buildings of Michael.  Other creatures whirl in the more fluid lines of Maia.



The clock is not something that exists after the moment.  The clock exists while the characters are moving.  All of these characters and the people behind them were changed by the history of each other.  They were each other’s clock.  They used each other’s lines to make their own lines, played with the meaning generated by others.  Their sight was limited (the person could only look downward, the character could only look a small radius around them), encouraging exploration of the world and each other.  As they moved and explored more of the paper terrain, they found ways to make their own mark in the expanse of time and space.