Christian Marclay, a Contemporary Artist

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Christian Ernest Marclay is a composer and visual artist born in California but raised in Geneva. This unusual contemporary artist combines noise, sound, film, video and photography to create rough, original collages. Critics regard him as the inventor of turntablism, because he uses turntables and gramophone records as musical instruments.

Marclay started to perform with phonograph records and turntables in 1979. He create an original technique that is not at all related to the way hip hop artists use those instruments. The artist studied between 1977 and 1980 at the Ecole Supérieure d’Art Visuel in Geneva and continued to take sculpture classes at the at the Massachusetts College of Art. Marcel Duchamps and Joseph Beuys inspired Marclay, because of his great interest in the 60s Fluxus movement. Fluxus is an international network of designers, composers and artists that encouraged a do-it-yourself aesthetic. Sometime the genre is called intermedia.

The contemporary artist was drawn to punk rock genre, so he started to sing on pre-recorded backing tapes and write his own music. Because he couldn’t find a drummer,for his duo performance with Kurt Henry, Christian used the sound produced by skipping a LP record instead. It was the first time such improvised instruments were used.

Another technique Marclay uses is the manipulation of damaged records acquired from thrift shops to produce continuous skips and loops. Sometimes he cuts and rejoins LP records to create a music with quick successions and pops when played in a turntable. The LP itself is a work of art, especially if two different colors are combined. The noise music is then recorded and edited. Some call Christian Marclay the first contemporary artist and non-rap DJ to transform the turntable that way and to rip songs apart rather than bring them together.

 This dadaist filmmaker and DJ combines daring film and video collages with unique sounds in a desire to express an idea. In January 2011, he exposed a piece called The Clock at an exhibit in New York. The substantial contemporary artwork included video images with a matching soundtrack. The 24 hour montage about time became a sensation, mainly because Marclay managed to synchronize thousand of shots of clocks with the actual time in the place they were exposed. He was the best artist at the 2011 Venice Biennale, and according to the Newsweek one of the most important contemporary artists.

Christian Marclay’s idea to deconstruct sound and transform noise into music comes from his view of the world. The music is human, charismatic and highlights his immense creative potential.

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