Movies, with a few exceptions, compress time, shortening and abbreviating events into comprehensible story lines. “The Clock,” a video work composed of clips from every film genre and period, does the opposite, extending movie time until it maps perfectly onto a real-life day. Created by visual artist and composer Christian Marclay, the action kicks off whenever you start watching. For the next 24 hours, whatever time it is in your world, that’s the time depicted in the movie. So, at 2:59 pm, Woody Allen in Mighty Aphrodite points to a clock decorated with two randy pigs. At 7:43 am, a clip from One Hour Photo shows a very creepy-looking Robin Williams staring at himself in the mirror. Marclay got the idea when he was working on a sound project. “I needed to mark time,” he says. “I started using found footage of clocks, and I thought, what if I could find every minute of the day and night?”
The grueling three-year editing process resulted in a mesmerizing work that few people have seen in its entirety. No worries, Marclay says. “It’s not meant to be viewed like that. It’s an ambient piece—it’ll always be ticking in sync with your life, and you can see it whenever you have an occasion to.” For now, “The Clock” is running at the Venice Biennale until November 27; after that you’ll have to wait until next year to catch it. Marclay has yet to finalize future venues—but at least you won’t have to worry about the showtimes.