This and That: Christian Marclay and the Internet

by Brandon Zech September 26, 2018

“This and That” is an occasional series of paired observations. -Ed.

Today: Supercuts

Back in a time before YouTube existed, when memes were just a glimmer in our collective eye, artist Christian Marclay began making intensive video works that culled Hollywood films for auditory and visual patterns. Then, with a keen eye and steady hand, he cut the montages into artworks that are now in the collections of some of the world’s most revered art institutions. He took his obsessive passion for splicing video to its logical, yet absurd conclusion when he created The Clock, a 24-hour video made using thousands of video fragments showing clocks from movies and TV.

In a New Yorker profile that followed Marclay’s making of The Clock, Daniel Zalewski wrote:

“Marclay believes that ‘art is all in the details,’ and so he committed to handling what mattered most: the editing. The key to his video projects, he believed, was the artfulness of the transitions, which reassured the viewer that a tactical intelligence controlled the flow of imagery. He also felt that the clock video would not cast a spell if it had the blunt cuts of its Internet cousins—those ‘supercut’ compilations of Hollywood clichés, such as action heroes deadpanning, ‘We’ve got company.’ He wanted his supercut to emulate the rhythms of a Hollywood feature. Others could collect the thread, but Marclay would weave the tapestry.”

Although the trained eye can tell the work Marclay puts into his video pieces compared to the thousands of other video montages out there, the supercut is now so ubiquitous that we’ve become almost desensitized to it.

With that said, here are a collection of videos — some Marclay and some not — just for comparison’s sake.

(Double click to play)



No matter how original, innovative or crazy your idea, someone else is also working on that idea. Furthermore, they are using notation very similar to yours. – Bruce J. MacLennan

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