Christian Marclay

Christian Marclay was born in 1955 in California. His work is heavily influenced by the Fluxus artists, as well as noise, pop culture, and punk rock. He has collaborated with some of the most important experimental sound artists of the 20th century, such as John Zorn and Otomo Yoshihide (their collab record Moving Parts is incredible).

One of his super cool video pieces is Video Quartet from 2002, which links up Hollywood films that feature music, and synchronizes the idea of composition, culture, and sound. Like many of Marclay’s pieces, it is overwhelming, loud, brash, funny, but quite sophisticated when closely analyzed. It was created using Final Cut Pro.

Next is Telephones, which is a little less overwhelming at first, but still maintains the same use of cultural artifacts. It’s a really funny piece, in a similar way that Video Quartet is, matching up different films, genre cliches and actions in a way that synchronizes perfectly.

Guitar Drag is one of my all time favorite pieces of art from any artist. It’s crushing, completely overwhelming, loud and violent. It combines the rock and roll worship of instrument destruction, the passive observation experience, the ugliness of observed violence, and the inability to look away into one piece. When I saw it at the Hirshhorn I was really excited, and stood in the room while it looped at an appropriately loud volume. It’s painful and hypnotic in person.

While it isn’t digital, I’m also including Record Without a Cover, which Marclay released with the instructions that the LP should not be stored in a protective sleeve, meaning that time and wear would slowly destroy the album. I’ve been trying to find a copy of this for a couple of years and I keep getting outbid on it. However, it’s a super famous “anti-record” that was really influential, particularly in the noise music scene with artists like The Haters putting out an album called “Wind Licked Dirt” (clearly Marclay influenced) which was totally blank and had to be played by rubbing dirt on it, so that’s pretty neat.