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Artist

Christian Marclay (1955-)

Title

Video Quartet

Date

2002

Medium

Four-channel video projection, color, sound, 17 min.

Dimensions

Overall: 96 × 480 in. (243.8 × 1219.2 cm)

Credit line

Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; Purchase, with funds from the Painting and Sculpture Committee

Accession number

2005.171

Object Label

The subject of Christian Marclay’s fourteen-minute installation Video Quartet is sound. Shown on four contiguous video screens, it is a montage of more than 700 individual film clips—appropriated from popular feature movies and documentaries alike—in which characters play instruments, sing, or make noise in one form or another. The artist’s use of turntables in previous performance pieces influenced his approach in Video Quartet: “It’s the same vocabulary of techniques, using snippets of sound and putting them all together to create a new unified composition,” he explained. Much of Marclay’s work in collage, photography, video, and performance concerns not only sound but its various visual and material incarnations, and Video Quartet is simultaneously a sonic and visual composition, with the two modes inextricably layered and entwined. Certain clips are repeated on different screens, prompting the viewer to register not only aural but visual patterns and correspondences. Although at points the work has an improvisatory feel, Marclay structured it as a score with discrete movements and motifs, and spent a year meticulously composing and editing it on a home computer.

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