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Christian Marclay's 'The Clock' is a mesmerising piece of film

Taking three years to assemble and incorporating thousands of clips from film and television, Marclay, and his team of research assistants, have created what is easily the world’s most entertaining timepiece.

To call Christian Marclay’s The Clock a masterpiece feels like an understatement. Arriving direct from London, Melbourne audiences finally get to feast their eyes on the highly anticipated filmic art piece. Hailed as one of the most popular pieces of video art ever made, The Clock perfectly blends the worlds of cinema and art.

Over the course of 24-hours, viewers are treated to a collection of clips featuring clocks, watches, and all manner of reference to time. The time on screen is always exactly synced to the present moment you’re watching, so the film itself functions as a working clock.

Viewers are taken on a journey through the last 100 years of cinema, as Marclay has carefully edited together clips from different decades, styles and genres. Each clip blends perfectly into the next, more often than not using action as the bridge. One moment you’ll see Antoine Doinel from Truffaut’s The 400 Blows dialling a phone, only to have it answered on the other end by Fox Mulder from The X-Files.

Mood and location are frequently used to create thematic connections between the variety of clips. By doing this, Marclay takes the audience on a journey not just through cinema, but through the many tropes that encompass it. You begin to notice the patterns that exist within film, not just the storytelling aspects but also visual ones.

The exhibition space at ACMI has been transformed into a full cinema space, complete with row after row of couches. You’ll find yourself mesmerised by the screen, playing a game with yourself trying to recognise where each clip is from. How you experience The Clock is dependent entirely on your own personal viewing history, as waves of nostalgia crash over you from noticing moments from Casablanca, Back to the Future and even High School Musical.

The impulse to fidget and check your phone is non-existent, as you realise you’re essentially sitting there, captivated, watching a giant clock. The notion of sitting quietly and literally watching time pass by may seem a bit ludicrous, but the emotional response The Clock elicits is a powerful one. It constantly makes you aware of time passes, and highlights just how important it is in our lives as well as the cinematic narratives we enjoy so much.

The Clock truly is a unique experience. Part YouTube mash-up, part cinematic journey, part… well, clock, it’s undeniable that Marclay’s creation is a masterpiece of video art. It’s playful, sardonic, suspenseful and infinitely watchable. Viewers will want to keep coming back for more, being enticed by its charm and supreme craft, as they try to see as much of the 24-hour loop as possible.

The Clock runs from January 23 to March 10 at ACMI, with 24-hour screenings happening every Thursday.