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24-Hour 'The Clock' Video Installation Opens at Lincoln Center

By Emily Frost | July 13, 2012 3:00pm
The viewing room for "The Clock" at Lincoln Center has room for only 100 viewers at a time.
The viewing room for "The Clock" at Lincoln Center has room for only 100 viewers at a time.
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Todd-White Photography

UPPER WEST SIDE — "The Clock," an award-winning 24-hour-long video installation by artist Christian Marclay, opened Friday at Lincoln Center's David Rubenstein Atrium, as part of a three-week exhibit expcted to draw thousands of fans.

The video, created by artist Christian Marclay patches together clips from across the history of cinema that each reference time in some way, usually represented by an image of a clock or a verbal reference to the time and the references match up perfectly with the real time.

The footage is a mashup of clips from films ranging from "Harry Potter" to "Pride and Prejudice" interspersed with obscure foreign films and old Westerns, with actors from Jack Lemmon to Denzel Washington to Michelle Pfeiffer. The scenes on screen are set against a musical background that includes ticking clocks, chiming bells and footsteps.

"'The Clock' ​is a spectacular and hypnotic work," said Reynold Levy, President of Lincoln Center, introducing the work Thursday. Lincoln Center representatives said they anticipate lines of up to 700 people and will have additional staff on hand to wrangle the crowds.

"I am a totally besotted, unadulterated fan of this piece," said Levy, who said he hoped that Lincoln Center's renovated campus and the exciting new exhibit would bring even more people to visit the arts center for the very first time.

"The Clock" will play on a makeshift theater set up in the visitor's center, which seats around 100 people at a time. The video will be on display through July 29 and is free and open to the public from 8 a.m. through 10 p.m. on weekdays and on continuous 24-hour loops on weekends.

​"It is literally a working timepiece," explained Levy, "...and a deeply philosophical work about the passage of time in our lives." 

The video has already traveled the world garnering the Gold Lion prize at the Venice Biennale. 

​Audiences know exactly what time it is by watching the film, and yet they get drawn in by the rhythm of the video collage and end up staying much longer than they anticipated, Marclay said. He added that he has envisioned the exhibit not as a film, with a set start and end time, but as a continuous piece, with viewers coming and going. 

"You are constantly being told what time it is, but you still get lost in it," he said.

​Marclay said he has never sat through the entire 24 hour screening of his own film, but he said many viewers stay for many hours, contributing to the long wait times. 

Marclay first started work on ​"The Clock" while living in London in ​In 2005. He rented videos from his local store and launched what turned out to be a three year process. 

"The hardest half hour to find represented in film was from 5 a.m. to 5:30 a.m.," said Marclay.