Today I stopped by LACMA because I heard they were doing a screening of “The Clock”. The concept of this film art piece is pretty entertaining.
The Clock is a 24 hour film by Christian Marclay. It is made up of clips from other movies with clocks/watches/timepieces in them. And whatever time is on the screen it is in real life. So, the film runs in real time. The film starts at noon and runs through the next day at noon.
Part of the review from The New Yorker:
For those who haven’t managed to make it to “The Clock,” it’s back in New York City, through August 1st, as part of the Lincoln Center Festival, and it’s one of those things you have to see. There’s no story in “The Clock,” just a carefully assembled series of film clips featuring clocks and watches, synced to real time (12:12 in life is 12:12 in the film), for twenty-four hours—a cinematic timepiece. The installation seats a limited number of people, so you can expect lines, but waiting in line for a movie about time—a piece that has no beginning or end, only arbitrary points of entrance and exit—seems fitting. I was ready to be skeptical, having heard so much about the piece’s brilliance—might it not feel like a one-liner, in the end?—but the charms of “The Clock” are real. And there are many of them.
But for all the brilliant visual pleasures here, the most significant thing about “The Clock” is its sound editing. Marclay has made a movie that at once draws endless attention to its own artificiality and ruthlessly forces us to submit to it. Watch “The Clock” and you’ll be reminded that we’re crude creatures, craving suspense and narrative, however sophisticated we think we are. All Marclay has to do is rig the music from one clip this way or that, raise the volume, and our hearts leap, or fall, or contract in fear. A techno beat layered over Chaplin fussing with a clock’s hands gets our pulses racing, makes us wonder, what’s coming? What’s going to happen to the wife of the bank manager? Will she be shot, as the thieves have threatened? More than ever aware of artifice, we remain just as deeply (or perhaps more deeply than ever) under its power. It’s a delightful conundrum.
Ultimately, “The Clock” is a signature artwork of our archival age, a testament to the pleasures of mechanization (and now digitization). It’s an experience, I suspect, that would be nearly entirely illegible to an eighteenth-century time traveller who, curious what modern-day New Yorkers were all wound up about, wandered into line. “The Clock,” with its obsessive compiling, its miniature riffs, its capacious comic and dramatic turns, speaks to the completist lurking in all of present-day us. If montage is usually as cheaply sweet as Asti Spumante, “The Clock” is Champagne: it’s what the form was invented for, it turns out. Drink it in deeply, and the days just might go on forever.
None of what I saw in “The Clock” felt tragic, despite the work’s obsessive preoccupation with the materiality of time, and its endless ticking away toward an end. While death suffuses the piece, its primary effect is to make the viewer feel an ongoing nostalgia for the present. It’s a funny film: a collage that’s also a kind of Duchampian ready-made. It’s both its parts and the sum of it. Like a Swiss watch whose insides are exposed, it lets us stare, transfixed, at its moving parts, which can’t be stopped.
Unfortunately, the film is not available online, but to give you a concept of this here is a clip I found on YouTube:
I only stayed for around an hour. If it comes by your town make sure you check it out for a little while.