The Los Angeles County Museum of Art showed Christian Marclay’s ‘The Clock” in its entirety, from 11AM yesterday to 11AM today. In the simplest terms, ‘The Clock” is a movie of thousands of film clips most of which are clocks that reflect that exact time. When the clocks on the screen showed 3PM, I looked at my iPhone and it said 3PM. I checked it several times during the span from 2:45 to 4PM that I watched and then again from 9:05PM to 10PM and every time it was accurate. On a superficial level, I spent over two hours yesterday literally watching the clock. With this movie, watching the clock is fascinating.
Of course there isn’t an overarching story for the film, but what’s the uniting theme for time other than it passes? Nevertheless, there are quips and consecutive sequences that wash over the viewer. Not an entire story, just snippets. It occurs to me that most hours and days aren’t complete in themselves, they are fleeting experiences sometimes totally a whole, sometimes not. I wondered if I would enjoy a lack of narrative and in the end, I found it relaxing almost a relief to only watch. I let time wash over me with a series of images and puns, sometimes sparking a thought, other times a smile, always interest. The experience felt like a visual Google search about the clock. The front page of any Google search result is a listing with a reference and a fragment of a description, enough to inform a decision about further exploration, or not. ’The Clock” felt like the movie version, I only saw a flash of scene, a heading so to speak, and maybe a little more, yet I could tell how it related to the topic.
I didn’t plan on going twice, but I wanted my family to see it. During the afternoon I saw Big Ben multiple times, scenes of kids in school and getting out of school, people leaving work, shopping, a nap or two. I didn’t stop to think about how the time affected the activities portrayed. During dinner I described the movie to my family and we decided to dash back to LACMA to experience it together. We arrived at 9:05 to see violence, crime (two murder scenes), anxious waiting, and an execution. At one point I looked over at Kelsey to see her eyes closed and covering her ears. How much do we as a culture imbue the hours of the day with certain meaning? I wonder if I have a silent but underlying emotional reaction to different times of the day. I don’t think I’m the only person who is more on guard at night, but seeing all the scenes together elevated the anxiety. Plus, it was only 9PM! It’s caused me to think about whether some of our reactions are natural and wise, and maybe others are heightened by media.
The 24 hour showing ended this morning, but starting Friday, LACMA will be showing the film in real time while it is open from 11AM to 8PM. I’m going to drop in now and again to catch a few more hours.
(I hoped to find a scene or two shot in a bookstore, but didn’t notice one, let me know if you did.)