'The Clock' Creator's New Exhibit Set to Make Some Noise in Hollywood

Steven Probert/Christian Marclay/Courtesy of Paula Cooper Gallery, New York

'Surround Sounds' — a comic book-inspired video installation on view at the Paula Cooper Gallery in NYC — is the latest from Christian Marclay, who created the hyped, hypnotic 24-hour video that captivated LACMA viewers including such industry fans as producer and New York Giants owner Steve Tisch.

A version of this story first appeared in the Sept. 25 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.

Boom! California-born artist Christian Marclay's new video installation Surround Sounds, on view in New York through Oct. 17, should make some noise with the entertainment industry. Marclay’s internationally acclaimed 24-hour video The Clock — which includes nearly 12,000 film and television clips that portray an entire day — was a hot ticket for Hollywood during its long run at LACMA (it closed Sept. 7). “I think that Hollywood gets [Marclay],” says Christine Y. Kim, the LACMA curator who brought the work to the museum’s attention. “For the movie capital of the world his work has another layer of excitement and familiarity.” Whispers of, “That’s the film I worked on!” or, “Oh, there’s me!” frequently were heard during screenings, Kim recalls. “It’s hypnotic, it’s addictive, and it’s very difficult to get out of your seat and leave the theater,” says New York Giants owner, producer and LACMA trustee Steve Tisch, who laid out nearly $468,000 in 2011 to acquire The Clock for the museum.

Surround Sounds is shorter (less than 14 minutes) and immersive in a different way: Visitors enter a silent, dark room where all four walls come alive with hundreds of animated onomatopoeias (Splat! Sploosh!) plucked from comic books. Marclay has given a specific choreography to the words, using Adobe After Effects to design a dance appropriate to the acoustics of each one. “Zoom” and “whizz” race across the walls; “beep” blinks relentlessly. Though the video has no recorded sound, the effect is “quite loud,” says Marclay, who reciprocates Hollywood’s fascination with his work: “I’m always taking apart films, and I see how editors create a narrative through fragments."

While he read The Adventures of Tintin growing up in Switzerland, for the artist the allure of comic books is not the story or the characters. “It’s the graphics,” Marclay says, speaking by phone from London, where he lives when not in New York. “In comic books, when you see someone with a gun, you know it’s only going off when you read the onomatopoeias,” he explains. “That’s interesting to me. How do you graphically make a sound be more expressive of its own nature? And then I’m pushing it further by animating it.”

Will Surround Sounds follow The Clock to Hollywood? Kim won’t say whether LACMA is specifically considering the work for acquisition, though she will “absolutely” see it this month in New York. As will Tisch. “Absolutely,” he says, echoing Kim. “Once the football season starts and I’m back in New York.” Asked if he ever has considered collaborating with Marclay, Tisch marvels at the idea. “No. And I can’t believe I never thought of that,” then promises THR's reporter, “I am going to look into it and give you all the credit if it happens.”

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