Siri Engberg, senior curator of visual arts at the Walker, says that The Clock is a tour de force for Marclay as he takes a DJ-like approach, mixing clips from the history of film. Created in 2010, the piece won the Golden Lion award at the 2011 Venice Biennale, and has been applauded as it has traveled to museums all over the world.
Every shot included in the film is a clip that either has an image of a clock in it, or time is mentioned by a character. Marclay has used similar devices in previous films, such as Telephones (1995), which includes a rhythmic montage of movies where characters are having phone conversations; Video Quartet (2002), a multi-screen piece that features films that show hands on keyboards; and Crossfire (2007) which does the same thing with gun shots.
While it may seem a bit gimmicky, The Clock never feels like it's pushing the concept. On the contrary, Marclay has constructed the sequences so seamlessly that it becomes quite mesmerizing to watch. Even though you're not seeing enough of any particular scene to know what each one is about (though you will surely recognize some of the films), time actually becomes the driving force for the narrative. Time also acts as a handy transition tool, helping the piece to go from one scene to the next.
Marclay also uses music and sound for the transitions, where an underscore often helps smooth out the switch. There are other clever transitions as well; a person might be driving in one scene and then suddenly you see another street where someone's driving in a different movie, or someone walks through a door in one scene and then you see someone else using a door in another movie.
It never feels jarring or rushed. Rather, it's a joy to see all these great movies and Hollywood stars in one big montage, and the clock serves as a way to keep the tension going. The neat thing is that that the clocks in the film all happen in real time, so if a person looks at their watch and it's 11:30 p.m., then that's what time it is as the audience is watching the film.
The Burnet Gallery is set up with comfy couches, so you can come in and stay as long as you wish. In addition to being screened during open hours, the Walker has also arranged several 24-hour screenings, starting this Saturday when the museum will be open all night for Northern Spark. In addition, further 24-hour screenings will occur July 10-11, August 8-9, and August 23-24. On August 25, Marclay himself will attend the special closing night, which features a screening of Marclay's Screen Play
with a live score by Laurent Estoppey, Ikue Mori, and Anthony Coleman as part of the Walker's 2014 Summer Music and Movies