Narrative clock

I have several stacks of New Yorker magazines at home, been a subscriber for years. It’s a bit of a problem though, to get rid of them, they keep piling up. Each one is almost like a work of art, the poems, the fiction, the artwork and the interesting articles. I try to throw out one year’s worth every New Year’s, or give them away somehow, but now I have stacks from 2012, 2013 and 2014, lying around on the bottom of a bookshelf. I can see the stacks at breakfast, and sometimes pick one up.

The other day I chose one from 2012 and read about Christian Marclay, (New Yorker 2012,, very interesting artist, and his project/film called “The Clock”, a 24 hour long movie that reminded me of quantified self and life logging. The movie is run using a computer program that shows clips from other movies, many other movies, with clocks for every minute of the day, all 24 hours (for example, an explosion from “The Aviator,” at 11:17 AM, if you happen to be watching at that time in the morning). I would love to see the 24 hour long movie.. someday. It’s now playing in Alberta (, a bit far away from here.

In any case, getting to the link between “The Clock” and life logging, I thought about the narrative camera and all my photos. I thought that I could make a video using photos of every minute of every waking moment in the last year. All the folders are on a hard drive, which the narrative uploader program organizes into folders by year, month and day. I’ve been using the camera itself for nearly a year, since Abril 22, 2014. According to a quick search with the Windows 7 search option, there are 383784 photos (.jpg files) in the last year. The file name of each photo is a time stamp, including seconds. So, if a photo was taken at ten seconds past 11:17 in the morning, the file name is 111710. To search for all the photos I’ve taken between 6h01 and 6h02 in the morning, I searched (again in windows), for 0601*.jpg, which gives me everything from 6h01 and zero seconds to 59 seconds. (My friend Carlos says I could try to program this using Python, really quite easy, but… haven’t got around to it).

The number of photos the camera has taken from 6h01 to 6h02 in the past year is 176. To bring that down to something I can easily scan myself, I decided to look at 10 second intervals. Since the narrative takes photos every 30 sec, I just looked at the first 30 sec of each minute, since the later ones would most probably be repeats of the first half of each minute.

So, to search for photos in the first 10 seconds after six o’clock (i.e., from 0600’00 to 0600’09), I searched for 06000*.jpg, and then the next seconds, 06001*.jpg, and then 06002*.jpg, which ended up giving me 22, 28, and 16 photos, respectively. To get a general idea of what I was doing during that hour (I usually get up at 6h00), I also did the same for 6h20 and 6h40. I then continued to do this for 11h00 (11h00, 11h20, 11h40) and 17h00 (17h00, 17h20, 17h40). Ideally I could do this for all waking hours of the day, but I wanted to get morning, work time and going home time for now.

I’ve included a graph that shows the number of photos taken during the different time frames.


After glancing at the photos, its clear that from about 6h00-6h40, I’m almost always at home, working. There is one photo of a plane seat and two of a train seat. I’ve included a 1 minute video here of some of the more decent photos, just a small collection ( At around 11h00, there is much more action, as would be expected, although I was still surprised by the variety, such as photos from vacations, from work, on the street. At around 17h00 more to do with travel, moving, and a little less variety than at 11h00.

It would be nice if someone was interested in building an app that would give you a “Clock”, á la Marclay, of your year, or even over last month, to give you, or others, a pretty good idea of what has gone on, without you having to scan through all the photos of ever hour. It would be handy, as well, to separate vacation days from work days. Any one up for that?


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