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There was a reason for this: Marclay’s physical collages were dependably clever, but their impact often faded once you got the joke.(Rows of seating reupholstered with piano-score prints and images of instruments?Many items had a connection to music, a dominant theme in his work.There were countless worn LPs, their covers bearing ghostly outlines of the vinyl inside; containers filled with bird’s nests of unspooled cassette tape; tatty theatre-geek scarves embroidered with musical notes stolen from Gershwin.He has a cheap aluminum Swatch whose hands resemble pencils, and he dutifully follows its dictates: his work hours are grinding and consistent.Given his space constraints in London, Marclay decided that his first project would involve immaterial material—that is, digital media.But, even if you chopped a film into a single frame, specificity clung to it: Audrey Hepburn, Givenchy, Manhattan, 1961.Marclay wondered if he could fashion from familiar clips a genuinely unfamiliar film, one with its own logic, rhythm, and aesthetics.
Sawdust generated by the artist upstairs sprinkled through cracks in the floorboard ceiling, shrouding his things in beige snowfall.
A reel-to-reel tape player, perched high on a ladder, plays water sounds, but the takeup reel is missing, so the tape cascades to the ground. (Apple later asked to use the video for an ad launching the i Phone; when Marclay declined, the company aired a rip-off.)He repeated his experiment with “Crossfire” (2007), an earsplitting installation featuring closeups of guns firing, especially the staring-into-the-cylinder shot favored by action directors.
The sculpture was recently shown again at Paula Cooper Gallery, in Chelsea; as the weeks passed, the tape pile rose balefully, like sand in an hourglass, and the burbling contraption became a relentless memento mori. Marclay edited the clips into a loop of unnerving rhythms—pulsing techno-like beats, solitary booms—and screened four synchronized montages on the walls of a dark room.
Christian Marclay moved from New York to London, in the summer of 2007, he left behind some of his most valued possessions: hundreds of boxes of thrift-store junk.
Marclay, the most exciting collagist since Robert Rauschenberg, had accumulated this trove over three decades, and relied on it to create his art.
“Musical Chairs,” from 1999.) Adding the dimension of time infused Marclay’s wit with drama. ”) “Telephones,” as it was called, was quietly revolutionary: one of the first video mashups, it was created a decade before the genre became ubiquitous on You Tube.