The Greatest Video You’ve Ever Seen 020: Christian Marclay’s “The Clock”


This week’s The Greatest Video You’ve Ever Seen is unique in that I haven’t really seen said video.

It is Christian Marclay’s “The Clock” which is a 24-hour long video collage collecting scenes from movies in which pictures of timepieces are featured. Every minute there is a new video clip that contains the image of a clock. The clips are in order and there are no skips. That means there are 1,440 minute-long clips and if you start the show at 12:00, the movie will actually tell the time.

I alluded to Christian Marclay’s work in sound experimentation in an earlier piece about Nickles’s Tongue in Beats Sampler Part Two. While Marclay started out working in sound, his oeuvre has grown to include other media, including video, collage, and much more.

Despite the quality of his previous output, “The Clock” has quickly become Marclay’s most famous work. It’s based on a thought-provoking concept that constantly reminds us of the passage of time as we experience its product. While you watch this grandiose project it persistently reminds you that you are slowly and inexorably dying.

As I write this, I am jet-lagged.

Sleep deprivation/sleeping at odd hours messes with perception of time so much that I find myself thinking about time itself.

Why do we normally sleep at night? Is it just the darkness or are our bodies meant to rest in these patterns? It’s crazy to be fully awake at 2 in the morning after sleeping for a full interval. By 10 AM I feel like I’ve had a full day, while others are just rousting themselves out of bed. What could we do with the hours we spend in the sack?

Marclay’s “The Clock”, its essence and the ideas it represents, has been the perfect companion to this abnormal state. I know in a few days I will be back on track, but it has been an interesting trip and I invite you to think about these temporal themes along with me.

Unfortunately, I can’t show you this whole masterpiece. You have to go to fancy art galleries in the world’s biggest cities to see it. However, there are clips on the Internet that will give you a little taste.

While the description on Youtube asks that you please not begin this clip unless it is precisely 12:00 PM, I’m going to take the liberty of giving you permission to view willynilly. It is opinion of The Greatest Video You’ve Ever Seen that a watched video is right at any time of the day.

Excerpt from Christian Marclay’s “The Clock”

[Youtube video]


And here’s another little clip I was able to find, from 4:29-4:33. With these 7 minutes, I have been able to show you almost .5% of the film. You’re welcome.

[Youtube video]


Just for fun, I am including some more videos of Marclay in action. The first is an experimental musical performance piece with guitarists KeijiHaino and Thurston Moore.

[Youtube video]


“Telephones” is a collection of video clips featuring the telephone in movies that coalesce into their own eerie narrative. It seems to be a precursor of sorts to “The Clock”.

[Youtube video]


At the Whitney Museum, voice artist Joan La Barbara performed Marclay’s “Manga Scroll” which is a 60-foot scroll comprised of mashed-up onomatopoetic utterances culled from Japanese Manga. This performance, in two parts, is amazing.

Part One

[Youtube video]


Part Two

[Youtube video]


Here is vocalist Theo Bleckmann’s own interpretation of “Manga Scroll”. He utilizes a few toys and his performance is equally endearing.

[Youtube video]


Finally, this is TheManga Scroll itself so you can get a look at it.

Share this on:
About the author:
Has 161 Articles


Back to Top