A description of Christian Marclay: The Clock isn’t suitably sufficient. It can be explained, but to be understood, it must be experienced. I believe this element is at the core of all great art—the ability to create something that defies words—and this piece is one of my all-time favorites.
Constructed from thousands of film clips indicating the passage of time, The Clock excerpts these moments from their original contexts and edits them together to form a 24-hour video montage that unfolds in real time. The work is synchronized with local time so that minutes and hours depicted in The Clock also pass simultaneously in the viewer’s real time. Spanning countless periods and genres, the work features time-related moments both iconic and obscure—often showcasing a clock or watch—ranging from silent classics and action blockbusters to Westerns and foreign films.
It is truly a mesmerizing masterpiece. In 2011, LACMA acquired The Clock and screened its West Coasts Premiere soon after. It is typically on exhibition every few years, with 24-hour screenings bookending the opening and closing. I’ve had the good fortune of seeing various segments in both theater and gallery settings and would be delighted to see many more.
Those of you in Los Angeles this summer are in for a treat! The Clock will be screening at LACMA during regular museum hours from July 5, 2015–September 7, 2015, with two full 24-hour screenings held on Saturday, July 25th, and Saturday, August 8th. Here are a few YouTube clips to wet your whistle.
If you’d like to read more about Christian Marclay, the New Yorker profile The Hours – How Christian Marclay created the ultimate digital mosaic is an in-depth look at not only his process of creating The Clock, but his life and work as a whole.
This short documentary, titled Record Player, is a fascinating look into his earlier work using the turntable and the difference between the sonic and the visual arts.