Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Encounter: "Hello" Song

Christian Marclay’s Telephones is a fun piece. In the approximately seven-minute long installation, we see clips of characters from popular films answering the phone with the greeting “Hello”. This reminded me of an I-pod commercial that uses a similar gimmick. I later found out, during a short investigation, that this is actually matter of some dispute, with Marclay feeling a tad “ripped off” by Apple. They certainly took a cue from him, but what sets him apart is that he’s not trying to sell a product and his work is considerably longer.

I found the sound in Telephones particularly interesting because of the length and continuous play of the clips. It was fun to watch the familiar clips as they went by, but after a while I began to ignore the visuals. I just closed my eyes and listened for a bit to the sounds of telephones ringing and hellos. Though the aural stimuli are much less varied, I was reminded of the sensation I felt while listening to Ximm’s work presented in class by Glen Bach. To me, Ximm’s work began as just sounds, but it quickly built into something more, and through its length it became more like music. Bach and many of the students commented that they felt the same way. So, after a moderate duration of denying myself the visual stimuli, Marclay’s piece had a similar (though admittedly less pleasant) effect. The rhythm of ringing and hello’s created its own little song.

After opening my eyes, I wanted to watch for a bit more because, as I’ve said, I found the piece fun. At this point, another idea occurred to me; the characters all appear to be conversing with one another. It’s a great correspondence between and through the boundaries of each other’s films. This makes them seem real; as if they were once lonely, stuck within their own worlds, but now they can break through and finally communicate.

Telephones differs from Cantor’s Deeparture in that something is created by the sounds instead of the lack of them. However, when considering my last paragraph, the two pieces maintain some similarity. Deeparture presents two creatures in a light as we have never seen them, just as Telephones gives us a new dimension of the film characters.

1 comment:

R. Nugent said...


Apple has "borrowed" from a long list of artists recently, and I'm surprised they have not really owned up to it. The silhouette iPod ads steal directly from the work of Kara Walker; you should check out her work if given the chance.

Interesting that you were provoked to close your eyes during "Telephones". I wonder what this lent to the imagination.

R. Nugent