artwork by madeleine stack
The main application of tally counters is as people counters. At concerts, stadiums, etc., a person will stand by the door with a tally counter recording the number of people that enter. At amusement parks, the rides can only hold a certain number of people, so the operator may use a tally counter to keep track of the number of people who get on the ride. They are also used for traffic analysis, scientific research, counting inventory and on industrial lines as well.
Tally counters have also been used in religion to count prayers, often replacing traditional prayer beads. Shri Vidya initiates often use them to keep track of the number of repetitions of the Mula Mantra into which they are initiated. Sikhs may use them to keep track of the number of times they chant the Mul Mantar. Gaudiya Vaishnava Hindus may use tally counters to keep track of the number of times that they chant the Hare Krishna Mahamantra. Initiated devotees are required to chant a certain number of 'rounds' each day, each round consisting of 108 repetitions.
It feels prayerful. The gallery. Sacred to this shrine of beauty or money. A time outside of time. There is no immediate time. The only timepiece is the clicker. Marvel of engineering, it fits snugly into the palm of the hand. The metal warms to prolonged skin contact. Warm like an animal. Sitting down, you let it fall gracelessly into your lap. Time passes unsees. You cross your legs. The clicker wedges itself into your crotch.
Dream of clickers and counters, stopwatches stuck at 9999. Warped watery in the dream logic, or huge, dropped from a great height onto a foreign hillside. Winking at me, flashing the end times. Stuck in the gallery, I begin to press rhythmically on the button. The door opens.
Instructions to invigilator:
Every time somebody enters the gallery, click the clicker as many times as you see fit.
Click it as many times as you like. Click it how you feel. Click in time to your heartbeat. Click in time to the person’s footsteps. Click for every dollar you make. If you’re working for free, click sullenly. Click silently. Click violently. Click with love in your heart. Click as though you’re detonating a bomb. Click as though you are praying. Don’t click at all.
At the end of the day, record the number you’ve reached.