Trip to the Nasher
My friend Wendy recently tipped me off to a show at the Nasher Museum- Chistian Marclay’s “Video Quartet”, and being me, I waited until the last day it was there to go see it. The Nasher is only about ten minutes (by bike) away from my apartment, but I haven’t been there since moving to Durham because their permanent collection is only so-so and their rotating exhibitions don’t usually catch my eye, but I am very glad I finally took the trip. “Video Quartet” was definitely worth seeing, and I wish I had gone earlier so that I could see it a few more times before the show closed. (a few times to get the “where’s waldo” effect of identifying movies you know out of the way, then a few more times with my eyes closed, and then a final time to just be overwhelmed by all the audio and visual)
The piece, which consists of four large screens showing various musical clips from a wide, wide array of films, was hugely entertaining and provided just the right amount of thought-provocation for a Sunday afternoon. My usual response to video art which mashes up clips of “mainstream” (or any really) film is “ew. oh no. please don’t.” This was the first instance that I felt the opposite, and actually saw how the technique could be productive and worthwhile. The editing by Marclay (credited, incidentally, as being the “unwitting inventor of turntablism”) was genius and showed a beyond-impressive use of restraint.
The whole time I was watching the piece, however, I couldn’t help but think of the movie “The 5,000 Fingers of Dr. T”, and was thrilled that there was an incredibly brief clip from it included. For whatever reason Marclay’s piece and “5,000 Fingers” are very similar in my mind. (perhaps “Video Quartet” could have benefitted from a “VERY atomic” noise-sucker) Ultimately I would like nothing more than to sit Christian Marclay down and grill him about “The 5,000 Figures of Dr. T” and his editing decisions. For those of you who have never heard of “The 5,000 Fingers of Dr. T” (for shame!) it’s a 1950s movie written by Dr. Seuss. Here is the scene that Marclay’s piece made me think of (the clip Marclay used is at about 5:23):
and here is a trailer of the movie:
here is one of the best musical numbers ever:
and one of the freakin’ scariest:
I highly recommend you go out and see this movie any way you can. I’ll be buying a copy of it soon enough, so- viewing party anyone?