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Christian Marclay

Sans titre, 2004
photogram on C-print paper mounted on Sintra board
60.3 x 50.2 cm
During his exploration of visual and sound cultures, Christian Marclay regularly turns to photography, a medium that figures constantly in his art practice. Whether employing photos shot by strangers and picked up at flea markets, or taking snapshots himself, Marclay is building up an inexhaustible archive of images that present some connection with sound.

He is also interested in old, rarely used photographic techniques like the photogram and cyanotype. These direct processes of reproduction, which expose the object to light without any intermediary (the shape and shadows of the object imprinting themselves on the photosensitive paper with varying degrees of density), were developed in the 1840s and sparked renewed interest in the 1920s thanks to Man Ray and László Moholy-Nagy. Marclay has reappropriated these obsolete techniques in order to set down images of sound-recording supports like vinyl records and audio tape that are themselves on the verge of disappearing. He thus captures the vulnerability of a medium with a process that is only slightly less fragile in the end since it, too, will fall out of use one day.

With his 2004 photogram, on the other hand, the artist foregrounds this vinyl support and plays on its translucence whilst evoking the musical technique of scratching. Simultaneously moon and incandescent sun, the album gives off a fading bluish glow, a kind of optical materialisation of the very music embedded in its grooves. Like an archaeologist, Christian Marclay is chronicling musical tools that will soon be abandoned and interpreting their formal qualities in a visual symphony that is highly evocative.
Christian Marclay, Sans titre, 2004