Image triggers sound in three works by Christian Marclay.

The Bell and The Glass & Shuffle & Screen Play

Christian Marclay, MAZE

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Image is used to trigger sound in three works by Christian Marclay. At the EYE the MAZE ensemble plays two early ‘video scores:’ edited film footage serving as graphic scores. In The Bell and The Glass (2003), Marclay juxtaposes two of Philadel­phia’s famous icons: the Liberty Bell and Marcel Duchamp’s The Large Glass. Marclay used original as well as found footage, including clips from Hollywood movies. In Screen Play (2005) black-and-white images are overlaid with brightly colored animated graphics which refer to musical notation and suggest tone, energy, rhythm, dynamics and tempo. Shuffle (2007) is a card game using photographs of everyday situations implicitly or explicitly referring to musical notation to be interpreted by the performers.

Programme (including Everyday)

Credits

graphic scores
Christian Marclay
technical assistant
Paul Anton Smith
bass clarinet
Gareth Davis
double bass
Dario Calderone
electric guitar
Wiek Hijmans
computer, electronics
Yannis Kyriakides
flute, electronics
Anne La Berge
various keyboards
Reinier van Houdt
coproduction
EYE
Holland Festival
November Music

background information

In connection with the performance of Christian Marclay's latest work Everyday at the Holland Festival, EYE and the Holland Festival jointly present three earlier works by Marclay. The MAZE Ensemble, an offshoot of the Maarten Altena Ensemble, give their own interpretation to two video scores and a musical card game. The ensemble consists of Gareth Davis on bass clarinet, Dario Calderone on double bass, Wiek Hijmans on electric guitar, Yannis Kyriakides on computers and electronics, Anne La Berge on flute and electronics, and Reinier van Houdt on various keyboards.

 

The Bell and the Glass (2003) is Marclay's first video score, a montage in which he juxtaposes two icons of the city of Philadelphia: the Liberty Bell and Marcel Duchamp's The Large Glass.

The Liberty Bell is a famous and historical bell which has become one of the most famous symbols of the American War of Independence and the notion of freedom in general. The bell is housed at a pavilion situated opposite Philadelphia's Independence Hall. For a long time, the story went that the bell was rung on 4th July 1776, the day the Congress of the thirteen states voted for the independence of America. That has turned out to be a myth, but the bell was rung four days later at the Declaration of Independence on 8 July 1776. The Liberty Bell was also known as the 'Independence Bell' or the 'Old Yankee's Bell', until the American abolitionist movement adopted the bell as their symbol in 1837. The bell acquired a large crack early in the 19th century, when it was being toured around the country as a kind of relic. The current large crack is the result of various attempts to repair it.

The Large Glass,or in full, The Bride Stripped Bare of her Bachelors, Even (original French title La mariée mise à nu par ses célibataires, même) is one of the most famous art works by the French-American artist Marcel Duchamp. The work was started in 1915 and in 1923 it was declared definitively unfinished by the artist. It's made of oil paint with wire and dust on two large glass panels, one above the other. In 1926 the work cracked at its first and only exhibition in Brooklyn. Duchamp spent much time laboriously repairing the work and placed it in the Philadelphia Museum in 1953, at the exact spot where it still is now, as the dominant art work in a room which is completely dedicated to Duchamp. The work represents the meeting between the bride in the upper panel and her nine bachelors in the panel below. The 'hilarious piece', as Duchamp dubbed the work himself, conveys the longing between man and woman as a mechanical process, a kind of set-up in a physics class, in which robots shoot particles at the bride and the bride is compared to an engine with a 'sex cylinder'. The work is actually about unfulfilled desire of two lovers who, divided by the horizon, cannot come together. This sentimental reading of the piece tends to be obscured by the racy details. Duchamp's mystifying approach is also evidenced in the strange use of the word 'even' in the title. In French this word, 'même’, sounds the same as 'm'aime' (loves me). So it could just be a crytptic word game Duchamp is playing with us.

As well as with the cracks, the location and the fame of the Liberty Bell and The Large Glass, Marclay's video score also plays with many other similarities and differences between these two icons of the city of Philadelphia. In a double video projection Marclay has combined 'found footage', such as Duchamp talking about the cracks in his work and clips from Hollywood movies, with footage he shot himself in Philadelphia. The two projections are divided between the musicians of the MAZE ensemble, interpreting the images and the stories behind them. The audience will not only hear the ensemble improvising, but also playing a few shorter scores which are projected as some sort of 'found objects' and three short scores which Marclay wrote to accompany three (audible) snippets of interviews with Duchamp on screen.

 

As well as The Bell and The Glass, MAZE also play Marclays work Screen Play from 2005 and Shuffle from 2007. In Screen Play (2005) a carefully edited sequence of 'found' black-and-white footage has been overlaid with brightly coloured animations reminiscent of the dots and lines of traditional music notation. These visual cues suggest emotion, energy, rhythm, pitch, dynamics and tempo and serve as raw material for the musicians to interpret.

Shuffle (2007) is a musical card game – available at online stores – with photographs of everyday situations which implicitly or explicitly refer to music notation. The members of the MAZE ensemble will provide their own interpretations of these images.

 

This performance was made possible with support by