The Clock

Time has always been a concept that is both virtual and real. It invisibly exists in our life. Sometimes, we closely go forward with it, while in other times, we completely ignore it. Quite a number of artworks have directly or indirectly discussed time. Perceptual, mechanical or chain-effect time often appears in the media of all kinds of realms of art. The Clock of Christain Marclay recently exhibited by Tate Modern is a work that integrally combines all aspects of time and discusses the influence of various time periods on human society and film industry. Besides, this work is about an edited video of a whole day long that perfectly matches a variety of film clips with real time.

The technique to re-edit existing images has not been strange in the art circle. Moreover, in the last twenty years, it has developed into a popular technique that frequently and interestingly covers existing images and background stories, as well as new words that creators want to express. The Clock provides its audience with a possibility to review time by applying this technique to time. In the whole day, it isn’t difficult for us to find some similarities. For example, in a given day, we rest, get up, wash and dress, eat breakfast, work, eat lunch, work, eat supper, rest and handle all kinds of events before the next morning. Even though they are all timeframes, it is easy for us to find out that the clips in films happening in many specific time periods are things in these links. In such a presentation, we can’t help thinking whether time rules life pattern or such order exists in our life pattern itself? In fact, as mentioned in the chapter about mechanical time and perceptual time in the book titled Einstein’s Dreams, some people unconsciously live in established frames and modules, while others simply live in their own perceptual world by ignoring such mechanicalness. In my opinion, the present life framework of people is such a mix constantly switching between perceptual time and mechanical time. In The Clock, the language presented in the film is the best example to echo with this chapter.

From the perspective of the film industry, it is not difficult for us to see the so-called relations between human nature and time. For example, at whattime people will be in a relaxed state and at what time people will rush to do what. Besides, during wee hours, complex and interlaced film clips overlap interesting things that may happen at each time point. Whether these film clips are imaginary or not, we can feel the interweaving between the collective humane viewpoints and the concept of time. It is like a portrayal of our society from film and description of certain time point by numerous creators. In the meantime, interwoven film clips provide this work a new level and a new storyline. Besides new words from interwoven film clips from time to time, this work also contains many contents that discuss the theme of time.

At the same time, the work itself is a huge clock. The audience can not only understand the potential meaning of time for people but also resonate with this work since it is corresponding to real time.

Nowadays, the concept of time has silently integrated into our life. Rational and perceptual states keep switching back and forth naturally. Time is an extremely abstract measuring concept. The duration of one minute is fixed, but the psychological spaces caused by a minute in people’s hearts are different. The largely complicated relations between time and people are reflected in this work completely.