Wednesday, February 9, 2011

The art-event bandwagon

(Installation view of Christian Marclay's video, The Clock)

I feel silly writing about “The Clock” when every critic on this island has already done so, giving it a standing ovation. Christian Marclay’s video is a 24-hour montage that’s an actual clock that you sit and watch. It is composed of thousands of movie clips in which time is displayed or discussed minute by minute, practically second by second. There are scenes, splices of scenes; moments build, moments stand still; time is scary, funny, suspenseful, bloody. And all the while there are timepieces bookmarking it all.

I was there specifically from 3:37 to 4:32. This stuff is great if you have even only an ounce of ADD because time flies. I could have easily stayed longer. The theater was packed and I hear on weekends there are lines to get in. On Fridays, the gallery stays open 24 hours.

What this piece does so well is give the sense of the world’s breadth and momentum. Or that’s at least what it presents and it feels real. Time is a construct that we use to organize it all. It’s way of framing constant movement and change. It's a metaphor too that we believe in. For example, we're convinced time moves “forward."

But blah blah. This is enjoyable art. I tried to think of something more insightful to say, but couldn’t. They’ll be plenty of that anyway. Someone will bring up Douglas Gordon’s 24-hour Psycho, right?

From Jerry Saltz's Facebook discussion. This is a comment by the New York Time's Ken Johnson:
ok, i took the jerry challenge. went back and watched for 90 minutes and came away with a split decision. i can think of as many reasons why it is good, if not great, as i can for why it is not so great. i got a better sense of just how canny the editing is but also a sense of how the mood keeps canceling itself as scenes change. i thought of baldessari's photographic montages, which, unlike surrealist montages are more semiotic than surrealistic/psychoanalytic. marclay's wit and cleverness are immense, and the execution is unimpeachably polished. philosophically there is plenty to talk about: real time vs. fictive time; time as a construct; modern, bureaucratically regimented, machine time and human freedom. the possibility of escaping time. time vs. eternity. but i have the feelng that the mandate to fill out 24 hours of clock time -- however impressively fulfilled -- produced something kind of impersonal. is it a work of soul stirring art, the product of a prophetic visionary? or an amazing stunt? i came away divided. so, i guess, it's a draw and we went dutch. all of which, i imagine, i'd have to rethink if i sat through all 24 hours. or not.

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