Christian Marclay’s The Clock

Christian Marclay’s 24-hour single-channel montage, The Clock (2010), contains over 12,000 cinema and television extracts from canonical thrillers, westerns, musicals and sci-fi through to obscure art-house oddities. Scenes from car chases and boardrooms to emergency wards, bank heists, trysts, and high-noon shootouts, Orson Welles impaled on a clock tower in ‘The Stranger’ (1946), the lightning strike at 10.04pm in ‘Back to the Future’ (1985), Big Ben exploding in ‘V for Vendetta’ (2005), or Helen Morse asking one of her students for the time in ‘Picnic at Hanging Rock’ (1975) provide cues as to the role of time’s passage in the appropriated film narrative and serve as a functioning timepiece that marks the exact time, in real time for the audience.

Christian Marclay, The Clock, 2010, single channel video installation, duration: 24 hours. Photograph: White Cube, Ben Westoby. Courtesy the artist, White Cube Gallery, London and Australian Centre for the Moving Image, Melbourne

The Clock plays with the viewer’s sense of expectation, casting time as a multifaceted protagonist. Space, sound and action intertwine as different programs and their characters glance, move or interact with one another. As one figure, placed in the black and white setting of an old film gazes off-screen in response to the sound of bell chimes, the camera pans to the clock in question only for it to be from an entirely different film; this time in colour. These visual continuities also include Marclay’s revisit of single films such as Montgomery Clift and Jennifer Jones waiting for the 8.30am train in ‘Indiscretion of an American Wife’ (1953).

Screening 10am to 5pm Friday to Wednesday, and for 24 hours every Thursday at Melbourne’s Australian Centre for the Moving Image from 23 January to 10 March 2019.

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