Monday, February 22, 2016

Time is of the Essence

Annamaria on Monday

First Watch this:

What you have just seen is a clip from Christian Marclay’s masterpiece “The Clock,” the pinnacle of art video.

I am inspired to post it here today for two reasons.  First of all, my mind is on the clock.  I arrived home after an eight-week absence on Friday evening.  I am leaving on Tuesday morning for Phoenix for the Left Coast Crime convention.  That means I have three days at home to accomplish a bunch of things and not a moment to spare.

I have also been thinking about the video because I have only recent spent time with my friends Jean-Claude and Francoise, who introduced me to the work of art in question at the Venice Biennale in 2011, where it won the Golden Lion—the highest award for a work exhibited at the vast art fair.

Christian Marclay is an American-Swiss artist whose mediums are film and music.  He was trained in Geneva, Boston, and New York.  His “The Clock” is beyond brilliant: a twenty-four-hour montage of film and television clips in which the clocks within the video are EXACTLY timed to follow the actual time in the place where the video is being shown.  When the audience in the museum watches the film, the time on the clocks synchronizes with their current time of day. 

For the forty-five minutes of “The Clock” that I saw in Venice five years ago, I was completely mesmerized!  I wanted to stay in the theater and watch the whole thing.  I still hope to do that one day.

Marclay worked with six assistants to collect the film and TV clips—over 12,000 in all.  He then spent three years editing the images and the audio.  Marclay then made six editions and two artist’s proofs.  Five were sold to museums.  The final one is in a private collection.

I am not the only fan to gush over “The Clock.”  Zadie Smith, writing in The New York Review of Books said it “is neither bad nor good, but sublime, maybe the greatest film you have ever seen.”

Here is a longer clip for you to enjoy, while I go back to racing with the real clock.

If you want to see the whole thing, you will have to find a museum that is showing it.  If you hear of one, please tell me.  I will take a plane to see it wherever it is.    


  1. Welcome home, and bon voyage! Sorry I can't make LCC this year. Ships in the night...

    1. ME, too, Evka. I hope an opportunity will show up soon.

  2. All I can think about when I see this are the copyright issues.

    1. Kate, I was hoping someone would ask that question. The artist did not seek permission to use the movie clips but took them as fair use, since they are so brief and part of an art project. The Clock video itself is covered by the convention used for all art videos. Most are limited editions and the owners and the creator promise not to let them escape into the Internet, where they can be viewed by unauthorized viewers. This is why there are only a few minutes of the twenty-four house available for public consumption outside of scheduled exhibitions. This preserves the "investment" of the first market and after market buyers of the work of art.

  3. Wags might say someone had too much time on his hands. Not I. I loved it.

    See you soon, sis.