Christian Marclay

Christian Marclay is a New York-based visual artist and composer whose innovative work explores the juxtaposition between sound recording, photography, video, and film. As performer and sound artist, Christian Marclay has been experimenting, composing, and performing with phonograph records and turntables since 1979 to create his unique "theater of found sound." Marclay was influenced by Marcel Duchamp. 

As a student at the Massachusetts College of Art Christian Marclay developed his interest in performance art and punk rock. It was the music world that inspired him versus the art scene. As Christian says in an interview:

"I came to New York in '78 on an exchange program at Cooper Union, and when I went back to Boston I started performing as a duo with guitarist Kurt Henry. I didn't have an instrument so I sang and made these background tapes for the performances. We didn't have a drummer so that's why I started using skipping records and things like that, to produce these rhythm tracks that we'd perform along with. We also used film loops from cartoons and sex films as audio-visual rhythm tracks. It was as much performance art as it was music. In 1980 I organized a festival (Eventworks), to explore the relation and influence of rock music on the art world. I invited people like DNA, Rhys Chatham and Karole Armitage, Dan Graham, Johanna Went, Boyd Rice, Zev to Boston. I showed films by Eric Mitchell, Jack Smith, Vivienne Dick, and others."

Marclay has collaborated with musicians such as John Zorn, Elliott Sharp, Fred Frith, Zeena Parkins, Shelley Hirsh, Christian Wolff, Butch Morris, Otomo Yoshihide, Arto Lindsay, and Sonic Youth, among many others. A dadaist DJ and filmmaker, his installations and video/film collages display provocative musical and visual landscapes and have been included in exhibitions at the Whitney Museum of American Art New York, Venice Biennale, Centre Pompidou Paris, Kunsthaus Zurich, and San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.

Christian Marclay has been said to be the first non-rap DJ to make an art form out of the turntable, treating the instrument as a means to rip songs apart, not bridge them together.  A key thread throughout Marclay’s work is this transformation of musical objects into visual commentary on culture. He continually works with the idea of deconstructing the record, in sound and theory. He is attempting to bring to light the background deterioration of the vinyl as a medium, the materiality of the cheap plastic the music is recorded on. Marclay finds creative potential in the recorded glitches that usually are ignored within music. Giving voice to the breaks and scratches within the recorded sound provides an insight into the chaos and undetermined potential of creativity.


Christian Marclay on Night Music

Christian Marclay - live @ Közgáz Jazz Klub 1987