New Art Exchange
East Midlands

Christian Marclay’s The Clock is a twenty four hour video installation made up entirely of thousands of moments from films which incorporate interaction with time. What makes this piece initially stunning is that it represents a real time video clock with most scenes featuring a time telling device which has been synchronized with real localised time. However the purpose of this piece doesn’t seem purely to be a cleverly constructed cinematic clock, this 24hour film explores further questions of the function of film, the cross over between art and cinema and how the audience experiences and engages with cinema.

One can easily submerge themselves into the dark space of the cinema and become lost; the disorienting effect of being in such space visually submerged into another time and place for a few hours can cause the affect of lost or confused time. Situated on a large screen in a dark viewing space, it too is easy to become lost in Christian Marclay’s The Clock. However by offering the audience an unusual constant reminder of real time from the various clocks, watches, and time references that are impossible to ignore, The Clock plays with the medium of film, its ability to distort realities and provide a stepping stone into fictional worlds for a duration of time.

This strange experience of real time synchronization merging with the fictional spaces inside the film allows the viewer to interact with the piece, engage and participate more fully as if able to project oneself into the screen. Separate cinematic moments are orchestrated together, a collision of various moods, characters and settings. However the viewer is confronted with a sense of the familiar, a familiarity associated with time and day to day activity, but also a sense of the strange familiar; the uncanny, closely affiliated within film itself.

I visit after work and around 6pm within the film characters are leaving work, running to catch trains, or preparing dinner, I too ponder going out in the cold, getting home and what to cook for dinner. Another visit during the 24 hour screening and it’s 4am dream sequences, nightmarish visions, disturbed sleep and sleepless nights leading into early 5am wake up calls, alarms, sunrises. Half the audience too seems to be falling asleep or in a dream like trance with the characters on screen, and the early morning disruptions snap me back into my own realty of again getting home and having to wake up in a few hours time. Although the viewer becomes lost in this illusory world it has a unique effect and almost becomes difficult to separate from the reality of real time and moment.

The theme of time itself is ever relevant in daily life, and especially within the medium of film were it can be, and often is playfully manipulated. Film makers have the ability to transform and play with the perception of time using devices such as duration, waiting and suspense, alongside fast forwards and flash backs. The carefully selected and edited clips of The Clock likewise explore this cinematic sense of time. Not all of the scenes in The Clock display the actual time but instead create an assumption of or reference to time. The viewer is confronted with time travel, races against time, waiting, and anticipation. Fragments of film are constructed together, held in place firmly by a carefully created cinematic soundtrack to create pockets of time moving continuously around the clock. Using these cinematic techniques Christian Marclay successfully engages the audience into the illusory world of film, with a twist of reality. As audience becomes lost within the work they are reminded, with an almost heightened awareness, of the ever ticking clock which marks out days, moments, years, duration.

I watched The Clock at The New Art Exchange, Nottingham where it is exhibiting until 9th January 2011 as part of the British Art Show 7 touring exhibition.