Numéro: It took you three years and an army of assistants to create The Clock. What was this experience like?
Christian Marclay: The process was long and difficult. We watched thousands of films, extracting passages that showed the time and storing them according to the minutes shown in a computer. We then had to find connections between each scene which were totally disconnected to edit them together. Every time we wove an interesting link, there was this rush of adrenalin and a palpable excitement in the studio. Then we had to start all over again for the next section. It was those little moments of chronological satisfaction that kept us going, when a section seemed to tell a story that we had completely invented. It was a monumental challenge and there were times when I thought we’d never get to the end.
There is no resolution in the narrative, which could be frustrating. And yet The Clock has been round the world, often with sold out shows. How do you explain the reaction to this work?
It’s true that the spectator has no means of knowing what will follow, nor can they anticipate the action. It could be frustrating for them, yes! In fact, I was surprised by how much time people spend in front of the work. Some set themselves a real marathon session, trying to see as much as possible in one go. Lots of art works require several visits to be truly understood, and in my opinion, those are the ones that most deserve our attention. There is no mystery with The Clock, but everyone leaves with a different experience, whether they are a movie buff or a straightforward spectator. Every visit is a surprise.