This summer I was lucky to spend some time in New York City and I experienced a very profound work of art. The Clock by Christian Marclay is a 24-hour film collage. The artist was originally a collage artist who worked with huge collections of found materials, but as he moved into a small flat in London, took up the much more space-saving media - found video.
I found this piece to be quite incredible, and so much more thought provoking then other art that I've seen lately. The piece is made up of clips taken from films all either referencing, overtly showing a clock or watch, or some mentioning of the time. It is a mash-up montage merged together quite beautifully, complimented with overlaying music and dialogue. The film runs in real time and continues for all 24 hours of the day. A viewer can come and sit in a comfortable, dark room and view this alternate passing of time whenever they wish. The time in the film directly and strangely reflects the viewers real life time, (the real life that they are passing up for this created time).
To me, experiencing this work was transformative and meditative. The video clips created some narrative, despite the discursive nature of the compilation, (perhaps the narrative was something that a viewer needs or wants and so would just form for themselves). It was quite mind-blowing to experience this passage of time taken in from experiences not your own, (or even anyone's own). It really quickly places you into some alternative sense of reality, one that is culturally rooted and universal, yet feels very personal and visceral.
My colleague and I first experienced the piece for one hour (from noon till one). We left wanting more and were filled with wonderings like How long has someone stayed in? What was it like at four in the morning? How could you go for very long without peeing? Is this reality better than the real one (maybe that's a bit of a stretch)? And most important to us was how long could we potentially stay in this thing?
We made plans and filled our pockets with licorice and tried not to drink anything beforehand. We put off a perhaps otherwise eventful evening in the fine town to go and sit in this crazy thing for as long as we could, hoping slightly to ourselves that we would be led into some kind of beautiful madness. Unfortunately that night the event only stayed open until ten o'clock and we were forced to leave after about four and a half interesting hours. We had not found our psychedelic mad euphoria (or maybe it was there all along). But there was such a beauty simplicity in this experience. It was a transcendent and raw and soul-filling meditation. I left, not knowing how long I could've really endured. And I like that wondering….