Home » Tick tock – have you seen The Clock?

Tick tock – have you seen The Clock?

If you haven’t, you must! It’s currently showing at the MCA and it’s simply awesome.

Christian Marclay

Christian Marclay

Christian Marclay created The Clock over a ten year period and won Golden Lion for best artist at last year’s Venice Biennale. And rightly so. It’s just sooooo good!

The Clock is a 24 hr collage of film snippets, some of them famous, some of them black and white, others less recognisable. Marclay has stitched them together so that it plays like an ordinary film – every scene linked to the next through a time relationship. Uncannily, the piece is synchronised to the time you are watching it. Much has been made of this aspect in the many glowing reviews he’s received, but for me it was the least significant thing about the piece – maybe because I’m not a watch wearer anyway….

But what I found so appealing about The Clock was the way it captivates you. It mesmerises you. Not only are the film snips linked by time – watches consulted, church bells ringing, clocks ticking, digital readouts marching onwards – there also seems to be a narrative. I was fascinated by this and the links Marclay draws between film snips – he weaves locations, themes, plots and characters together and lulls you into a sense that you know what is going on – he convinces you that there is a story. However it’s constantly slipping away from you and reappearing in the next frame. At any one moment you are absolutely sure of what is about to happen when Marclay snatches it from you and sweeps you along; fills you with dread, holds you in anticipation, moves you from moment to moment and then, with the tick of a clock it’s gone and another story takes the fore.

On hearing other people’s explanation of The Clock I expected to be annoyed by this, this constant movement from theme to theme, idea to idea. But there’s no rancour and it’s actually what I like best about it. The piece is so well constructed, that the shuffling from idea to idea actually leaves you wanting more. All the components of any good film are there; suspense, rhythm, climax (usually on the hour or the half hours), and a great music score.

So while you still can, spend some time with The Clock and experience complete engagement.

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