Boltanski and Marclay

Christian Marclay: 2822 Records


Site-specific floor based installation of vinyl records. He invites visitors to walk on the artwork.

Vinyl is plastic used sometimes for wallpapers.

The electrical tape, which is also plastic which I have used for many of my floor and wall-based works and installations bear a resemblance to Marclay’s vinyl.

People can walk over the vinyl records in Marclay’s installations without fear of being reprimanded, much like my floor pieces – even though the tape may become tattered through being walked on.

Marclay states he ‘wanted to disrupt people’s usual relation to this fragile object and make you aware that every step you take will transform this music into noise’

His statement reminds me of an installation I created where I placed lots of pressure-sensitive mats that when stepped on would activate a doorbell under some carpet.

People would walk around and activate different noises that would come from the walls. Children especially enjoyed jumping from one sensor pad to the other.

Marclay has tackled visual and recorded art many times in his career.

Marclay is perhaps most famous for his ‘The Clock’ video piece, which unfolds in real time through thousands of excerpts that for a 24-hour montage. It chronicles the last 100 years of cinema’s rich history. If the time is displayed in a film, it is utilised chronologically in Marclay’s film.

Marclay’s piece can be seen as a counterpart to some of Christian Boltanski’s works that question parameters of human existence like life span and death. You could read Marclay’s ‘Clock’ piece as a reminder that time waits for no one, the work continues relentlessly. The time displayed on watches, clocks and the like is given precedence over the stories being told in the films. He is not interested in the narrative form; he staples the clips together as if stating that time is the greatest and harshest editor of all.

Boltanski’s pieces sometimes have included sounds of heartbeats that naturally sound like the ticking of a clock. For a description of his ‘Grand Palais, Paris’ work, where a mountain of clothes were displayed, he used the sounds of 15000 heartbeats. He describes that even when the people who supplied the sounds of their heartbeats that were recorded die, the recordings will outlive them. There is something about the theme of the relentlessness of technology that unites these artists.