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Guerilla clockmaking
November 27, 2007 3:27 AM   Subscribe

Untergunther, a chapter of the Parisian cultural guerilla organisation UX (most memorably responsible for setting up a secret theatre in the catacombs under the Seine in 2004), unveil their latest project - a clock-restoration workshop hidden in the Pantheon dome! The group's own report and pictures here.
posted by nicolas léonard sadi carnot (25 comments total) 26 users marked this as a favorite

 
a chapter of the Parisian cultural guerilla organisation UX

A gang of qualified clock makers wants to volunteer their time to repair a clock? Why could they not have done this with the support of the city? Why go "guerilla"?

This is cool in a zany high school mischief sort of way, but reparation and restoration of items of cutural significance is probably something that is best left to professionals operating in the light of day.
posted by three blind mice at 3:37 AM on November 27, 2007


A gang of qualified clock makers wants to volunteer their time to repair a clock? Why could they not have done this with the support of the city? Why go "guerilla"?

You aren't familiar with French bureaucracy, are you? If they had tried to do it through official channels, they'd still be waiting for a first reply. As for the "support of the city", since the Pantéon is a national monument, I don't think it would have been much use...They would have had to go to whatever national ministry is in charge of it (probably the Defence Ministry...not the most transparent or open-minded of French institutions) to ask for permission.
posted by Skeptic at 4:12 AM on November 27, 2007


Unter Gunther, doompa dee doo
I've got a perfect puzzle for you
Unter Gunther, doompa dee dee
If you are wise you'll listen to me

What do you get when you pick every lock
Sneaking around, just to fix someone's clock?
Making your home in the Panthéon's dome -
Why don't you leave culture well alone?

I DON'T LIKE THE LOOK OF IT
posted by the quidnunc kid at 4:24 AM on November 27, 2007 [9 favorites]


Better to leave a heritage item alone, rather than place it in the hands of folks untrained in heritage management. A cute act -- and definitely neat -- but I'd rather they fought their way through the bureaucracy rather than leaving it to a single clockmaker and his army of nurses and lawyers.
posted by barnacles at 4:26 AM on November 27, 2007


Well, I think it's neat. I get really tired of everyone acting like they're worried about upsetting the time-space continuum. Like we're supposed to walk lightly so that we don't accidentally change history, as though we're not part of it. Admittedly, there are many more ways to change history for the worse than there are to change it for the better, but fixing clocks isn't one of them.

Here in the U.S. they likely would have been arrested for terrorism and sent away for the duration. I'm hoping that pendulum swings the other way soon.
posted by jiiota at 4:46 AM on November 27, 2007 [7 favorites]


three blind mice writes "reparation and restoration of items of cutural significance is probably something that is best left to professionals operating in the light of day."

True, but here the choice wasn't "fix it guerilla or leave it to professionals", but "fix it guerilla or leave it rusting and broken".
posted by Bugbread at 5:12 AM on November 27, 2007 [2 favorites]


Bravo, I say.

I suspect the cultural significance of the clock is being a little overstated. I think the real motivation was to do some strange, cool, slightly surreal stuff: the clock is really just a post facto rationale for a kind of existentialist act.

Which is surely much better than if it were just some worthy piece of civic horology, clandestine or overt.
posted by Phanx at 5:21 AM on November 27, 2007


i love these guys : >
posted by amberglow at 6:45 AM on November 27, 2007


I thought this was awesome, and this photo of their hideaway was cool too. Love the chairs. Not only do they have an expert clockmaker, but they also have some people with a pretty good sense of design and theater. I just wish I had been a part of this group, and actually almost wish I lived in Paris. There's so much stuff that sits rotting, and in the basements of museums. Even for all the thought that they're supposed to be the ultimate caretakers of history. Maybe this will shed some awareness on that.
posted by Eekacat at 6:45 AM on November 27, 2007


COOLEST POST EVER.

"Many of them were students in the Latin Quarter in the 80s and 90s, when it was popular to have secret parties in Paris's network of tunnels."

Why was I not a part of this world? I don't think "secret party" could ever, ever be cooler.

Also, this should be made into a film, like Thomas Crown Affair style, but with less stealing and more fixing.
posted by nonmerci at 6:45 AM on November 27, 2007


(and don't forget Robert DeNiro in Brazil)
posted by amberglow at 6:47 AM on November 27, 2007


This is great—thanks to nlsc for the post and to UX for their cleverness, daring, and commitment to preserving history!

These comments about how things should be Left to the Authorities, even if the Authorities will never do anything, are depressing. Authorities and credentials are bullshit; knowledge and passion and the ability to get things done are what's important. Take charge of your own world, it's the only one you've got!
posted by languagehat at 6:49 AM on November 27, 2007 [5 favorites]


Interesting story. These guys remind me of Silhouette from Deus Ex.
posted by Rangeboy at 7:00 AM on November 27, 2007


This was the only post I've ever "favorited" on BoingBoing when I saw it come up, just because of how awesome it is.

There's a certain air of "IM IN UR PANTHEON, FIXIN UR STUFF" about it, as well.
posted by CitrusFreak12 at 7:00 AM on November 27, 2007


These comments about how things should be Left to the Authorities, even if the Authorities will never do anything, are depressing

Second the motion. Let there be guerrilla fixeruppers! Very cool post.
posted by Hobgoblin at 7:15 AM on November 27, 2007 [1 favorite]


Rock ON.
posted by CheeseburgerBrown at 7:17 AM on November 27, 2007


These guys are the good guys, good guys is what these guys are.
posted by Divine_Wino at 7:56 AM on November 27, 2007


Yep, I am another person wondering why my life has not included partying in the Paris underground and the clandestine fixing of cultural monuments. Because that's freaking cool. I love their little hideout, those chairs rock.

That said, "...(they) were cleared on Friday of breaking into the 18th-century monument in a plot worthy of Dan Brown..." made me cringe. Honestly, could people PLEASE stop giving Dan Brown so much freaking credit? Just. Ugh.
posted by miss lynnster at 8:11 AM on November 27, 2007


That said, "...(they) were cleared on Friday of breaking into the 18th-century monument in a plot worthy of Dan Brown..." made me cringe. Honestly, could people PLEASE stop giving Dan Brown so much freaking credit? Just. Ugh.

Seriously, eh? At least they mentioned Umberto Eco afterwords, to make it all the more jarring. The quoted sentence reads to me like:

"... they were cleared Friday of making a philosophical argument worthy of Ayn Rand or David Hume."

Just ewwwwww.
posted by Alex404 at 8:43 AM on November 27, 2007 [1 favorite]


Which is surely much better than if it were just some worthy piece of civic horology, clandestine or overt.

Well, I disagree, but it's just a matter of taste. I'll take horology over existentialism any day. But if existentialism provided the motivation for fixing a clock, all the better.
posted by Kadin2048 at 9:00 AM on November 27, 2007


"...(they) were cleared on Friday of breaking into the 18th-century monument in a plot worthy of Dan Brown..."

Their plot was wooden, simpleminded to the point of absurdity and showed only the most dilettantish efforts to understand the complexities of the subject matter at hand and yet still sold eight bajillion copies to a willing public that prefers even their light summer genre reading to be a comforting pap of raw donut batter?
posted by Divine_Wino at 9:17 AM on November 27, 2007 [1 favorite]


ÜnterGünther.
posted by bitter-girl.com at 9:19 AM on November 27, 2007


things magazine has a nice bit about this and urban exploration, and actually this post (also)... though the latter is less interesting than the former and, with all due respect, neither are moreinteresting than the original subject.

And yeah, for the nth time, these cats? The UntherGunther-ists? Are it.
posted by From Bklyn at 1:00 PM on November 27, 2007 [1 favorite]


Right.

ON!
posted by Wolof at 1:23 PM on November 27, 2007


So, they played with the French government's dingaling?

Cool, I like it. (My partner went to school in Paris in the 90's. He didn't get to any underground parties. Oh, wait, he's a geek. Never mind)
posted by Goofyy at 10:01 AM on November 28, 2007


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