Sunday, January 3, 2010

The Olympic Clock: Past, Present and Future

Vancouver's "Olympic Clock" beside the Art Gallery in downtown has been the target of much snide guffawing and vandalism since it was unveiled by British Columbian Premier Gordon Campbell shortly after noon on February 12th, 2007.

In what may well have been the the first act of Olympic defiance of the decade, the countdown's timer was hacked into yesterday on Saturday, January 2nd and set to read "69 days" remaining until the opening ceremony at BC Place Stadium in False Creek. There were of course, "40 days to go" (thank you, VANOC official website) until Canadian Governor General Michaƫlle Jean's worldwide telecasted introduction to the event and 69 is of course, "a number following 68 and preceding 70" (thank you, Wikipedia) and is sometimes used in other contexts (thanks again, Wikipedia).

Serious opposition to the hunk of luxy watchmaker Omega-sponsored steel and glass dates back three years to when it was first displayed to an audience of two thousand Vancouverites amongst an active and violent protest, in which some spectators attacked with rocks and paint balloons in the minutes following the unveiling. Yellow paintballs hit on February 17th, 2007 and the timekeeper suffered a "paint-bombing" the next month on March 11th. August 28th marked another assault on the 2579 pound inanimate beast, as the twenty-footer was consumed in a figurative fireball of white paint. In a non-malicious technical failure, the Olympic side of the clock stopped ticking and shut off on November 27 as the result of faulty wiring.

A multitude of protests have been held at the site, both related and irrelevant to the upcoming Olympic shenanigans. Homelessness protesters prompted a sleep-in on February 10th, 2008. Seventy-five from the Anti-Poverty Committee gathered the next week on February 17th. People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals showed on April 2nd to highlight the seal hunt to the world and First Nations people rallied the next month on May 22nd against child poverty with a hope for another look at the welfare system.

At the grand opening of the "Official Timekeeper of the Vancouver 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games", the Chief Executive Officer of The Vancouver Organizing Committee for the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games described it as "a stunning example of what's possible when you tap into local creativity and talent," while an excited spectator reportedly deemed it to resemble a "really big … ice cube". The director of Swiss Timing, a sister company of luxury watchmaker Omega, was also present at the corner of Georgia and Hornby to explain that "three years go by very quickly!", offering a debatably needed opinion on a constant phenomenon.

None of this, however, gives any insight into what will happen once the Games have come and gone. Will the clock shift into a reverse countdown, in which passer-bys may remark on how much time has passed since the world came to our city or will it be licensed to whomever is willing to contribute to the off-setting of the substantial debt caused by Olympic renovations and preparations in exchange for key advertising potential, along with some local ridicule?


Richelle said...

Nice photoshopping Riley. Gotta teach me how to do that. I would love to cake someone's photo with vandalism.
: )

krzyglue said...

I must say, personally I disprove of the tactics many of these so-called "protesters" employ, especially related to the clock. Very interesting article!

emilylouise said...

wow. good job, well written!

Veronika Bondarenko said...

That is one vandalized clock!