Total Running Time


Josephine Sales



Works Comprised

Rescue, 2023  

plaster wall relief, mdf, SWLL10-0-L Tintable White Spartawall Interior Flat Paint 

Pulses, 2023 

digital audio, surface and tactile transducers, total running time 15 minutes

Day for Night, 2023 

two prepared 5000 kelvin circadian optic light panels, two security timers, polyester film filters

Total Running Time Site, 2023 

coming soon

Project description

Total Running Time is an installation comprised of four distinct works:

Rescue, an anagram of the word ‘secure,’ spans two walls in a 5-foot tall shallow plaster relief. Two geometric forms that mirror characters in the relief can be used as seating. This work asks viewers to consider their relationship to crisis and care. 

Pulses is a fifteen-minute telephone call through the prison telecommunication system, the maximum length permitted for calls between an incarcerated person and the “free world.” The piece vibrates through transducers embedded within the wall. This tactile sonic arrangement is punctuated by periodic reminders that the telephone line is being surveilled and counts down the remaining call duration.

Day for Night, an expanded cinema work, is two clocks that illuminate the room, made of two prepared 5000 kelvin circadian optic light panels generically used to mimic sunshine. It runs on two security timers. Viewers are invited to experience sunlight on two different timelines: the first, a constant 24-hour day; the second, once an hour.

Total Running Time Site is an auxiliary exhibition site and digital sourcebook available on loan to Beall Center for Art + Technology, UC Irvine, for an extended period beyond the exhibition run. The site is available through the university domain and invites remote and site-specific engagement. 

Across these works, Total Running Time explores temporalities of care, abstracting the halted rhythms of the day and strictly controlled telecommunications for incarcerated people. Scrambled text, interrupted messages, light without sun: Sales uses these gestures of disrupted social and sensorial experience to interrogate the material entanglements of incarceration, disabled life, labor, and the extraction of time. 


Three walls frame two white stools in the center. On the rightmost wall, a bright, cool light source colors the room a cool white color.
Room with cool light, on the gray colored floor sits two benches in the middle. One is rectangular, the other is a six sided bench with a sharp point.
A light box against a dark background. One half is emitting a bright amber glow resembling dawn’s warmer orange light. The other half is a cool white light.
Three walls frame two white stools in the center. On the rightmost wall, a deep orange light source colors the room a rich goldenrod.
Room with amber glow, on the gray colored floor sits two benches in the middle. One is rectangular, the other is a six sided bench with a sharp point.

Visual description

When you enter the gallery, you will find a three-walled room or alcove built into a corner for the installation, Total Running Time. The wall on the left is 16 feet long, the center wall is 17 feet long, and the right wall is 12 feet 6 inches long. A dropped ceiling creates an intimate space at 10 feet high. This alcove’s walls are painted “gallery white” with SWLL10-0-L Tintable White Spartawall Interior Flat Paint, which is bright, smooth, and uniform.

Total Running Time includes four discrete works described clockwise throughout the alcove.

Rescue, a plaster wall relief, and two geometric forms are positioned on the gallery floor. 

The five-foot-high white plaster relief 1/8th inch thick sits on the left gallery wall and spills into the alcove, bending around the back left corner. Because it is so thin and the same white as the walls, it visually goes almost unnoticed, but the shadows that the letters cast help define the letters’ edges and contours. The plaster edges are unfinished and rough to the touch. On the left wall, the relief is shaped into three capital letters: R, E, and S. followed by a character of three thick, horizontally stacked lines that span the back corner, continuing to the back wall.  Along the back wall, it also includes a capital C, U. It is an anagram of the word “secure.” Altogether, from the R to the U, the relief is 27 feet long. While most of the letters are elegantly simple with thick lines, upon closer inspection, the center of the U holds the image of a screw with a threaded top in the negative space. 

Pulses, the ambient sound that pervades the room, is a 15-minute audio recording that runs on a loop with a one-minute silence between each iteration. 

Audio sources include a telephone ringing, a mechanical ventilator, a prison telecommunication disclosure announcement, an acapella version of “Unchained Melody,” a switchboard at a call center, and vocal elocution exercises. The sounds are produced through surface transducers mounted from within the gallery walls. A sonic description is included in the artist's documentation. 

On the rightmost wall from the entrance is a niche built into the gallery wall, which recedes 4 inches deep and is 19.5 inches tall and 26 inches wide. Perched within the niche are two contained light units at 45 inches high. The units are housed with factory fluorescent tube light sources that generically shine cold. The light source on the left has been manipulated. 

This unit has been prepared to mitigate the cool light with a polyester film and diffusion, creating a daylight effect, hence the titleDay for Night.

This light unit emits a bright amber glow that resembles dawn’s warmer orange light. It runs 24 hours daily. The second, cool light periodically accompanies the warm light throughout the day that sits next to it, on the right. This lightbox maintains the original cool hue and periodically runs for 15 minutes at the tail of every hour during gallery hours. The tubular light sources for both units are covered by a thin translucent material that allows light through but obfuscates the light bulbs themselves. Each unit is built with two 5,000 Kelvin bulbs, regulated by security timers to correspond with a 24-hour day cycle. The light sources are initially designed for people with seasonal affective disorder symptoms and/or low-level access to outdoor light. A warning is provided for anyone with photosensitivity.

Within the center of the room sits two geometric forms that resemble seating, painted with the crisp, smooth gallery white. The forms are the exact dimensions as the horizontal marking situated in the corner of the relief, Rescue, and is an extension of the same work but on the gallery floor. The two forms mirror the character’s two parts but are made three-dimensional: the straight horizontal line from the left side and the line that angles at 45 degrees from the right side. They are exaggerated volumetric forms or like cubes large enough to sit on. Rescue, in its entirety, invites viewers to rest, collapse, lean, or press into their surfaces.

Viewers are invited to engage in the final work, Total Running Time Site, an auxiliary exhibition site and digital sourcebook available for an extended period beyond the exhibition’s run.

Verbal description

Sonic description

[silence and stillness]
[blippy ringtone]
[blippy ringtone]
[blippy ringtone, line connects]
PRE-RECORDED SYNTHESIZED VOICE: you have a call from the state correctional institution with a call from an incarcerated human being.
to accept this free call, press 1.
to refuse this free call, press 2. [a slight crackle on the line]
if you would like to permanently block your number from receiving calls from this facility, press 6. [light crackle and static]
[phone touch tone with a clipped “oh”]
[background static hisses steadily as an improvised, syncopated melody emerges from everyday sounds listed below]
[tinkering with a small bell]
clipped “oh”
[door hinge creaks and plinks]
clipped “oh”
[various clinks and plinks interspersed with clipped “oh” and more clacks and taps]
[footsteps in clacky shoes mixes into the music of clicks, clacks, clipped “oh,” and taps]
[sounds above begin to align, forming a steadier rhythm, all continue with the addition of more]
[tiny bell rings]
[steps and clicks and clinks continue]
[distant motor of a power chair whirs and buzzes]
clipped “oh” reverberates
[tiny bell, power chair whines, steps, and clicks continue]
[power chair whir grows louder as clicks and taps and plinks and clipped “oh” and bell happen more rhythmically, closer to each other, speeding up until finally…]
PRE-RECORDED SYNTHESIZED VOICE: this is a call from the state correctional institution.
this call is subject to recording and monitoring.
[static on the line]
[static continues as a melody like an emergency siren emerges out of the shadows, howling and whining in the distance, warbling until it fades away, leaving only static]
[melody returns, but this time in a human voice, crystalline and pure]
Ah-aaaaaaaah Ah-ah-ah-ah-ooh-ohhhhhhhhh
Ah-aaaaaaaah Ah-ah-ah-ah-ooh-ohhhhhhhhh
Ah-aaaaaaaah Ah-ah-ah-ah-ooh-ohhhhhhhhh
[melody above continues as harmonizing voices add-in, no instruments]
ooooooooooooooooooooooooooooH ooooooooooooooooooooooooooooH ooooooooooooooooooooooooooooHooOooooooooh
                                                                                	♪ Oh (oh, my darling)
♪ I've hungered for your touch (oh, my love)
♪ A long, lonely time (oh, my love)
[distant siren voice in and out] ♪ Time goes by so slowly (need your love)
♪ And time can do so much (need your love)
♪ Are you still mine?
♪ I need your loooooove (time)
♪ I neeeeeeed your love (time)
♪ God speed your love to me (goes by so slowly)
♪ my love
♪ my love (still miiiiiiiiine)
♪ Lonely rivers flow (river flow, river flow)
        	♪ I need your love
♪ To the sea, (to the sea, to the sea, to the sea) to the sea
        	♪ I need your love
♪ To the open arms of the sea (the sea, the sea, the sea)
♪ my love
♪ Lonely rivers sigh (rivers sigh, rivers sigh)
        	♪ my love
♪ "Wait for me, (wait for me, wait for me, wait for me) wait for me
♪ I'll be coming hoooooooooooome, wait for me"
♪ My love
♪ OooooooooooooooOh, my love [static grows louder as voices soften]
♪ Ooooooooooooh, my love
♪ My looooooove
[hissing static louder and louder, interference, ring]
[crackle, squeak]
[a pattern of four light, bubbly pops plays again and again over the hiss of static for 2.25 minutes]
tik tik tik tik  	bass - hiss - vibratory
tik tik tik tik  	bass - hiss - vibratory
[pattern of four continues, pulling in new sounds now and again, sometimes becoming five]
[like creaking leather]
[like a distorted echoing pulse]
tik tik tik tik
tik tik tik tik
[creaking leather, then the pulse, a pop, a breath]
tik tik tik tik
tik tik tik tik
[breathing – breathing]
tik tik tik tik
tik tik tik tik
[volume ramps up, ring interference - white noise – electric]
tik tik tik tik ping      	bass - hiss - vibratory
tik tik tik tik ping      	bass - hiss – vibratory
tik tik tik tik ping      	bass - hiss - vibratory
tik tik tik tik ping      	bass - hiss – vibratory
[pattern continues, echoey, steady, the static rising and rising]
tik tik tik tik ping      	bass - hiss - vibratory
tik tik tik tik ping      	bass - hiss – vibratory
[staticky hiss ends]
PRE-RECORDED SYNTHESIZED VOICE: this is a call from the state correctional institution.
this call is subject to recording and monitoring.
[the following will be a collage, starting with single sounds, building into dizzying layers of sound and voice]
[distant traffic]
[office telephone rings, pause, rings louder]
[traffic driving through rain, home telephone rings]
[office phone rings, a crackle, a dial tone as another phone is dialed in layers with the nearby passing cars and the office phone ringing again]
                    	[street cleaner sweeps past, phones ring, dial tones ring out]
Hello, operator.
[ringing, tones, sweeps, crackling, popping]
Would you like to place a call? Hold please.
                    	[ringing, dial tones, a siren blasts through the ever-present rush of traffic]
Hello? Would you like to make a call?
                    	[ringing drowns out the voices, traffic is relentless, emergency vehicle nears]
Would you like to make a call?
[digital pulsing of a modem firing up, sirens, rings, traffic, dial tones]
[all begins to fade]
Can you please hold?

[signal beep tone] 
DIGITAL EMPLOYEE SYNTHESIZED VOICE: I apologize, but I don’t think I can define care                 	
[one interminable minutes of only static]
[one interminable minute of only static]
[a quiet hiss, occasional little pop, a stillness]
[low-tone beep…beep…beep…]
[scrape-tone, scrape-tone…scrape-tone…scrape…]
[scrape] pa [tone]
[scrape] pa [tone reverberates]
[tone] pa…[tone] pa…[tone] pa…[tone] pa…[tone] pa…
[scrape, background hiss intensifies, voices speak almost all at once, collaged unevenly]
        	pa / tuh / pahrfect
        	pa / tuh / pahrfect
[hiss softens]
[and now 1.5 minutes of collage: layers of the recorded voices producing a jumpy, jolty version of the word “perfect” composed with the following sounds and syllables. The word comes out imperfectly every time but plays steadily as a heartbeat.]
breath pah
pahrfect, pah pahr pahrfect
pahrfect, pah pahr pahrfect
[and on and on against a light whoosh of faraway traffic]
pahrfect, pah pahr pahrfect
pahrfect, pah pahr pahrfect
pahrfect, pah pahr pahrfect
pahrfect, pah pahr pahrfect
pahrfect, pah pahr pahrfect
[“perfect” vanishes]
[clicking, digital pulsing of a phone being dialed]
[old phone receiver clanks into its cradle]
[old rotary Bell South telephone rings, its multi-tone brrrrriiiiiing reverberating as it fades]
[brrrrriiiiiing, reverberates, then fades]
[brrrrriiiiiing cut off by a click]
[receiver clunks into place]
PRE-RECORDED SYNTHESIZED VOICE: you have one minute left.
[the minute passes in stillness, just the air moving in the room, turned into a light hiss over speakerphone]
thank you for using Securus.
[the line clicks as it’s cut]
the caller hung up.

Day for Night score

Day for Night Score

Two optical light units are situated side by side. Each unit is built with two 5,000 Kelvin bulbs, running on its own timescale. The optical light unit on the left runs on 24 hour time, beginning at 12 am, and a constant speed, emitting a warm, amber glow. The optical light unit on the right runs once an hour for 16 min, in the final quarter of each hour emitting a cool, white light. 

[Warm light]

12:00am - 01:00am Warm light on

01:00am - 02:00am Warm light on

02:00am - 03:00am Warm light on

03:00am - 04:00am Warm light on

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06:00am - 07:00am Warm light on

07:00am - 08:00am Warm light on

08:00am - 09:00am Warm light on

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10:00am - 11:00am Warm light on

11:00am - 12:00pm Warm light on

12:00pm - 01:00pm Warm light on

01:00pm - 02:00pm Warm light on

02:00pm - 03:00pm Warm light on

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08:00pm - 09:00pm Warm light on

09:00pm - 10:00pm Warm light on

10:00pm - 11:00pm Warm light on

11:00pm - 12:00am Warm light on

[Cool light]

12:44am - 01:00am Cool light on; off

01:44am - 02:00am Cool light on; off

02:44am - 03:00am Cool light on; off

03:44am - 04:00am Cool light on; off

04:44am - 05:00am Cool light on; off

05:44am - 06:00am Cool light on; off

06:44am - 07:00am Cool light on; off

07:44am - 08:00am Cool light on; off

08:44am - 09:00am Cool light on; off

09:44am - 10:00am Cool light on; off

10:44am - 11:00am Cool light on; off

11:44am - 12:00pm Cool light on; off

12:44pm - 01:00pm Cool light on; off

01:44pm - 02:00pm Cool light on; off

02:44pm - 03:00pm Cool light on; off

03:44pm - 04:00pm Cool light on; off

04:44pm - 05:00pm Cool light on; off

05:44pm - 06:00pm Cool light on; off

06:44pm - 07:00pm Cool light on; off

07:44pm - 08:00pm Cool light on; off

08:44pm - 09:00pm Cool light on; off

09:44pm - 10:00pm Cool light on; off

10:44pm - 11:00pm Cool light on; off

11:44pm - 12:00am Cool light on; off


This installation is made alongside the care, thought, and generosity of many people, most crucially those whose lives are materially impacted by disability and the social condition of disablement. With love and appreciation to Abolition Reading Circle, Dawud Lee, Micah Giradeau, Risa Puleo, Alberto Lule, Constantina Zavitsanos, Jordan Lord, Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha, Park McArthur,  Carolyn Lazard, Mev Luna,, Adelita Husni Bey, Amalle Dublon, Dustin Gibson, Alice Sheppard, Cheryl Green, Lateef McLeod, Tyler Morse, Noam Keim, Keramet Reiter, Alexis Rowland, Swethaa Ballakrishnen, Kaaryn Gustafson, Teerath Majumder, Miriam Simun, Alberto Pete Rivera, Noam Shemtov, Spencer Toler, Peter Goldberg, Adi Blaustein Rejtö, Lexi Welch, Bill Jenkins, Nick Thalhuber, Fellow artists of the CripTech Incubator,  E.A.A.T. exhibition organizers, a2ru, Ground Works, UCI Underground Scholars, and Beall Center for Art + Technology for contributing to the realization of this installation

Fiscal support provided by Leonardo | International Society for Arts, Science and Technology, Beall Center for Art + Technology, Alliance for the Arts in Research Universities a2ru | Ground Works, and Claire Trevor School of the Arts, UC Irvine. 

Access/Total Running Time