This Mesmerising Art Installation Returns To The Tate Modern This Year

Alex Landon Alex Landon - Editor

The Clock

Clock-watching has never been as fun as it is during The Clock.

Here in London, we’re already pretty blessed by incredible art exhibitions. Having said that, we certainly won’t say no if any more come our way, particularly if it’s been described as “a masterpiece of our times“. The Clock is a 24-hour video installation by artist Christian Marclay that has captivated audiences since it was first unveiled, and it returns to the Tate Modern on September 14th. Not bad for an artwork which is literally all about watching time pass.

The Clock
Photo: @akivagothelf

The Clock is mystifyingly brilliant, intricately put together, and rather difficult to describe. In simple terms, it’s a day-long video stitched together from thousands of film and TV clips, each one depicting a clock or referencing time. The frames change, but time will continue running as normal, which sounds dull on paper but is utterly hypnotic in reality. It charts the passage of time, whilst simultaneously tracking the history of cinema and revealing the cyclical nature of days. Tension builds around midday and on the approach to midnight, when the characters face their fate. I have my suspicions about what will happen at 4:20pm, but they remain as of yet unconfirmed.

The Clock

It’s also synchronised to local time, so if it’s 3:34pm in real life, it will be 3:34pm in The Clock. Which will no doubt end up being slightly trippy, especially since this artwork has no dedicated beginning or end. Just like time (this is where things get slightly existential). Practical issues have been considered, though; to solve the problem of no-one ever seeing the 1am slot – due to the Tate Modern’s opening hours – the gallery is hosting dedicated 24-hour screenings from time to time. Expect only hardcore art fans/cinema nerds to stay for the whole thing. Here’s a glimpse of what you can expect from The Clock (best played at 12:04pm for the full effect):

The Clock will be on display at Tate Modern between September 14th and January 20th, 2019. It’s free to enter, so you should at least give it the time of day…

Also published on Medium.