The Clock: Christian Marclay

Curator: Agnieszka Gasparska
date: December 31, 2012
Categories: Entertainment Design, Experience Design, Motion Graphics
Tags: Art & Design, Collage, time, video
Video still from The Clock, 2010. (© Christian Marclay/Courtesy Paula Cooper Gallery, New York)

Today being New Year’s Eve—the official holiday of Time—I could not resist marking the occasion with a tribute to Christian Marclay’s The Clock.

The epic video collage is not just a piece of cool video art—it’s a fully functioning clock meticulously assembled from thousands of film clips from probably just as many movies, edited together over the course of at least as many hours, depicting every minute of the day in a seamless 24-hour sequence that unfolds in perfect synch with real time.

The Clock is also a beautifully composed portrait of all the various activities we, as humans, engage in during the course of the day (at least as depicted in the last 100 years of cinema), and a catalog of all the devices we have created to help us better keep track of time.

It is also a reminder of how intimately related design and art-making truly are—how carefully designed art can be, and how artful design can be. The project began with a very simple idea, which required a vast amount of research, countless hours of assembly and editing, and the most complex and precise process of production to ensure successful execution. In describing his creative process, Marclay could just as well be talking about the process we as visual designers go through every single working day:

“I love putting things together that don’t belong together—and finding a way to bridge them and to find a connection. And when you get that kind of synch between those different elements, it’s like magic.”

Video stills from The Clock, 2010. (© Christian Marclay/Courtesy Paula Cooper Gallery, New York)


The Clock is currently on view at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, and as of 10:30 this morning running its full 24-hour loop for the first time at the museum, complete with a special menu of refreshments and an all-night espresso bar for those in for the long haul. It will be quite the scene when The Clock strikes  midnight...
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