2011 February 11 • Friday
Christian Marclay's "The Clock" will be at the Paula Cooper Gallery for another eight days. I highly recommend it!
It's a twenty-four hour video work composed of clips from movies in which we see clocks or other timepieces or sometimes just characters involved with time in some way. Whenever the time is seen or heard on screen it matches the actual time it happens to be for the audience watching.
I really loved it. It was captivating, beautiful, hypnotic, suspenseful, exciting and, best of all, fun. All the shots I found online emphasize the presence of clocks on the screen but it's not just a parade of timepieces. There are people, dialogue, music and movement of various other things.
Before "The Clock" I only knew Marclay as a turntable manipulator who was part of the downtown NYC music scene in the 1980s and '90s. His experiences with music and improvising appear to have informed his artful editing of the different movie scenes.
Sounds from one scene will often intrude on another before the actual cut. One memorable call and response moment had Karl Malden yelling for Baby Doll (from the movie of the same name) while Vincent Price in The Fly sits on a bench, seeming almost to hear Malden when in fact he's just barely failing to hear his fly-sized scientist friend who's about to be killed by a spider.
Another one has a bomb exploding in Hitchock's Sabotage and then a badly damaged Inspector Clouseau remarking that the explosion has caused his watch to stop.
In addition to the time theme, Marclay's video catches other currents that come his way: binoculars, elevators, telephones and other elements come and go like recurring musical themes or motifs.
But what I liked best about it was how it creates a whole world populated by thousands of movies. It gives the sense that all of these different realities are one smoothly flowing reality and at the same time suggested to me that its real subject is the power of the film medium.
For that reason it really is best viewed in a proper screening room such as the Paula Cooper Gallery has, but I can't help hoping that "The Clock" gets its own twenty-four hour home on the internet, its own channel that you can tune into whenever you want to check the time and get transported.
[Added 2011-02-18: I went to see "The Clock" again yesterday, this time with David Grollman, who also really enjoyed it. We had to wait an hour to get in, though there hadn't been any crowd at all the first time I went. I was surprised to notice that clips from television shows as well as movies are used. There were bits from The Avengers: "The Hour That Never Was" and The Prisoner: "Hammer into Anvil". I wonder if clips from the Prisoner episode "The Chimes of Big Ben" are in there somewhere.]