Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Marclay "Screenplay"

This is one of Marclay’s visual scores, in which found materials are collated as a representation of a sound performance to be interpreted by musicians. It is Marclay’s intention that his film be viewed by performers as a score. Screenplay is compiled from film footage that Marclay spliced into something of a narrative. In addition, he introduced simple, colorful digital animations of lines and waveforms and big, round dots on top of some of the footage. In following series of images, for example, a conductor appears on screen. It is one of the more explicitly music-related sequences in Screenplay, which is more often packed with seemingly random images of buildings and under-water scenes.

In this segment, a thick line traces the path of the conductor’s hand, until, over time, his face is almost entirely obscured:

Marclay’s art often has a magnetic quality, in which the world seems to conform itself to his mindset. For example, in the sequence depicted above, the actions of the conductor, which already were meant to give instruction to musicians, take on a whole new symbolic purpose.

There is a stream-of-consciousness quality to Marclay’s Screenplay. For example, at one point there’s a chase scene that ends up with a door being locked, followed by a close-up of the lock, and then when the key falls out of the lock, something on the floor explodes, which leads to numerous sequences of ever more out-of-control fires, which then leads to scene after scene of water. Each of the segments of the silent, unfolding story is taken from a different pre-existing source, but through Marclay’s editing, they’re combined into something fluid and whole. As with the numerous printed scores on display, Screenplay is running unaccompanied by music — if Marclay uses art as score, in this setting his score is the art.


Christian Marclay is a New York based visual artist and composer whose innovative work explores the juxtaposition between sound recording, photography, video and film. Born in California and raised in Geneva (Switzerland), he studied sculpture at the Massachusetts College of Art in Boston and at Cooper Union in New York. As performer and sound artist Christian Marclay has been experimenting, composing and performing with phonograph records and turntables since 1979 to create his unique "theater of found sound." Marclay has collaborated with musicians such as John Zorn, Elliott Sharp, Fred Frith, Zeena Parkins, Shelley Hirsh, Christian Wolff, Butch Morris, Otomo Yoshihide, Arto Lindsay, and Sonic Youth among many others. A dadaist DJ and filmmaker his installations and video / film collages display provocative musical and visual landscapes and have been included in exhibitions at the Whitney Museum of American Art New York, Venice Biennale, Centre Pompidou Paris, Kunsthaus Zurich, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.