"I have a sense for when a clock is in the background of something, which is kind of strange. I like it."
"I have a sense for when a clock is in the background of something, which is kind of strange. I like it." Credit: courtesy Clee McCracken

As you scroll through Clee McCracken’s TikTok account, the @clockluvr username is immediately accurate.

Timepieces cover the walls. Every clothing item features clocks. There are constant cameos from a plastic anthropomorphic clock named Original Ticky Tock. Often, McCracken is dressed up like a clock. The bio reads: “Welcome to Tick Tock TikTok.”

It’s very clear: This account loves clocks. And McCracken wants to share that love with you.

Beyond TikTok videos, Humboldt Park-based McCracken creates sculptures, records music, and designs clothes—all involving clocks. The vibe overlaps outsider art, club kid chic, and weirdo Internet culture. But McCracken doesn’t think of this obsession as an art practice. They call it a lifestyle.

When and why did you get interested in clocks?

The official start date is August 21, 2014, from noon to 3 PM. I went to see a film called The Clock by Christian Marclay at the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis. It’s a 24-hour-long supercut film of clocks in the background of movies. Every time there’s a clock, he and a team of assistants pulled out the clock shot, figured out what time was on it, and matched up that time to the real time. So at 1 PM, you’re watching all clocks that are set to 1 PM.

Then I got out of bed and I was like, “I should try being obsessed with clocks.” And I did it.

On TikTok you talked about seeking something to obsess over.

Yeah! I definitely was interested in doing a durational thing. At the time, I was reading Andy Warhol and Judith Butler: Identity is performative. Everything is fake and shallow. And I was like, I can be whatever I want to be. That thing can be really artificial. So, I wanted to try it and see how far it could go. And clocks ended up working really well for that.

Right now, how many clocks or clock items are in your collection?

Actual clocks, I probably have 30 or 40. And then, with clothes and stuff, it’s hard to even count. Recently, I’ve been collecting a lot more clothes. Probably 80 to 90 percent of my wardrobe has clocks on it. I’m going for 100 percent, but the holdout is that I sometimes have jobs where I don’t want to wear clock stuff.

With 30-40 clocks in your room, what does it sound like?

It’s not very noticeable during the day when I’m doing things. But at night, when I’m going to sleep, it’s really loud. I didn’t have batteries in a lot of them for a while, but then I put batteries in all of them for a daylight savings time TikTok. Now it’s really loud. I’m trying to get into it, I’m trying to embrace it. Sometimes I wear ear plugs, but very rarely. I’m kind of used to it now.

I used to sleep with a little clock that I wore on a necklace, in college. I’d sleep with it clutched to my chest and let my heartbeat synch with the ticking of the clock. It was very soothing.

It’s weird now because the clocks don’t synch, necessarily. It’s kind of like a wave of ticks. The rhythm changes night to night because the mechanisms are all synched differently. It’s like a wash of ticking.

Do you think of this type of obsession as an art practice?

I think of it as a lifestyle. I think of other people with really constructed identities . . . I used to be really into Kim Kardashian, for instance. She’s totally artificial in that way. She has a lifestyle that is completely fake, and I love that.

How accurately does your social media reflect your day-to-day life?

I’d say relatively accurately. Definitely more so as I amp up the extreme-ness of my lifestyle. It used to be that I was sort of curating the clocks for social media, so that it would seem like things were more clock-y than they actually were. But now, it’s so thoroughly a part of my day-to-day life that it doesn’t feel like I need to curate as much. Everything is clocks. It doesn’t matter which part of it I show, because it’s all clocks.

How do you feel when you see a clock?

One of the first things that happened when I got into clocks is I started noticing them. I became hyperaware of clocks. When I would go into a room, I would scan the walls where clocks might be. That’s carried into lots of things. When I’m watching videos on TikTok, I notice clocks in the background of things immediately. I have a sense for when a clock is in the background of something, which is kind of strange. I like it.


I’m literally always looking for clocks 👀

♬ original sound – Spanishdumdum

Top clocks in the midwest?

There’s a clock that I really love called the Hour Time Restaurant Clock. It’s in Lafayette, Indiana. They brought the clock over from England. It was a railway clock or something, but they imported it and they put it on top of this restaurant. Then the restaurant closed and they took the clock off the top of the restaurant and set it on this hill in between these two hotels and gas stations. So, it’s just this clock randomly sitting on this hill. I came across it randomly driving to my parents’ once. I was so struck by it. I made sculptures of it. I’ve gone to visit it a million times. That’s got to be one of my favorites.

Then my other favorite clock is the World’s Tallest Grandfather Clock in Kewaunee, Wisconsin. I’ve only been once—I went last summer. I didn’t know it existed, even. It’s like 40 feet tall. It’s on Lake Michigan in this random, small lake town. I thought that was really great. I’m drawn to big clocks. Bigger is better.

Favorite clock in your collection?

That cycles a little bit. I have this clock called Original Ticky Tock. He’s anthropomorphic. He has legs and arms and a face. That’s got to be one of my favorites. I’m really into anthropomorphizing clocks right now. I think about furry stuff, but instead of a furry, it’s a clock.

Favorite time?

I don’t have a favorite time. I try not to play favorites too much. However, there are some times that I like in particular. 10:10 is one. 10:10 is a time that watches are photographed commercially. They do that because the hands make a sort of smiley face. It’s supposed to have a positive connotation, because it has an upward arc or whatever. That’s one that I like because it’s really ubiquitous but you don’t think about it until you are looking at it. Then, when you’re looking for it, you see it everywhere.

What is your favorite TikTok that you’ve made?

Someone put a grandfather clock on a Roomba, and I dressed up in my grandfather clock costume and I copied the way that clock was moving. It was a total flop, but I think it was definitely some of my best work.   v