Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Christian Marclay's The Clock Film Comes to Boston

Christian Marclay The Clock 4.07-4.12 via This is a Start

MFA asks early birds to pay $200 to see ‘Clock’
The MFA is charging $200 for the chance to view the first complete Boston presentation by artist Christian Marclay of “The Clock,’’ a 24-hour film installation made up of hundreds of movie and television clips with references synched to real time. The work, which has generated critical acclaim and enthusiastic crowds at other locations, will be presented during the Sept. 17 opening of the museum’s Linde Family Wing for Contemporary Art.

Flock Around ‘The Clock’
But at 9:30 Wednesday morning, with the cold wind raising tears in their eyes, Nick and Elspeth Macdonald from Park Slope, Brooklyn, huddled dutifully in front of the Paula Cooper Gallery along with 20 other people. They were all waiting to get inside to spend a little time with “The Clock,” the widely praised 24-hour film by Christian Marclay that weaves together thousands of snippets from throughout the history of the movies (and, to a lesser extent, television), each clip marking the precise minute, or sometimes the second — with a glimpse of a clock or a watch or a snatch of time-related dialogue — in which the viewers are experiencing it in real time.

Artists at work
Slave to the rhythm
Christian Marclay on deadline
CHRISTIAN MARCLAY, a visual artist and musician, is finishing a masterpiece. He is cooped up in his walk-in-closet of a studio on the fourth floor of a townhouse in Clerkenwell, London. He has calluses on his fingers from clicking a mouse—or mice, rather, as his 24-hour video, “The Clock”, is too big to be loaded onto a single computer. Sometimes he bandages a couple of fingers together to stave off carpal tunnel syndrome. Who would have thought that making concept-driven art would be so physical?

“The Clock” is a montage of clips from several thousand films, structured so that the resulting artwork always conveys the correct time, minute by minute, in the time zone in which is it being exhibited. The scenes in which we see clocks or hear chimes tend to be either transitional ones suggesting the passage of time or suspenseful ones building up to dramatic action. “If I asked you to watch a clock tick, you would get bored quickly,” explains the artist in remarkably neutral English. “But there is enough action in this film to keep you entertained, so you forget the time, but then you're constantly reminded of it.”
Artworks based on appropriation sometimes get ensnarled in copyright issues. “Technically it's illegal,” Mr Marclay says of his elaborate re-mix of cinematic snippets, “but most would consider it fair use.

Christian Marclay's The Clock: a masterpiece of our times
I should confess, when I first sat down to The Clock, that I had a sneaking, off-message feeling that the humble YouTube "number" compilation might actually be delivering the same idea with less fuss. But that's not true. You have to settle into The Clock, and go into the extraordinary trance-like state that it induces. When I first arrived, I found myself giving a little amused laugh at each appearance of the time. Then the novelty wore off and I became silent. Some other people, arriving after me, went through the same process. I arrived just after 11 in the morning and left before 1pm, so I went through the midday climax of emotions: I expected, and got, Gary Cooper in High Noon. Then there were a lot of shots of clocks and watches and lunchtime and people wondering if it was time for lunch. There were, generally, a large number of shots of Big Ben and large institutional clocks, lots of scenes of people hurrying for trains, late for trains, early for trains, hanging around on platforms. The Clock might turn out to be one of the great train movies.

Christian Marclay’s New iPhone Ad?
In his 1995 film Telephones, artist Christian Marclay spliced together snippets of actors from Hollywood films answering phones. Apple contacted Marclay, he says, to get permission to use the concept for a new iPhone ad (above) that debuted during the Oscars.

He refused. They took the idea anyway.

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