Marclay, an artist who has been exploring visual and audio crosscurrents for twenty years, plastered more than five thousand blank musical notation sheets in public spaces throughout Berlin during a month-long sound festival in 1996. Members of the public filled them in with standard musical notations as well as scribbles, drawings, and random marks. Marclay then photographed the graffitied sheets, selected 150 from the group, and compiled them into a book, creating a musical score. This selection of prints makes visible the usually intangible elements of music, like beat and rhythm.
Gallery label from Out of Time: A Contemporary View, August 30, 2006–April 9, 2007.
Trained in the visual arts while also experimenting with music, Christian Marclay emerged in the 1980s as a crossover artist, fusing the worlds of music, fine art, and performance. His work comprises sculpture, collage, and installation, and invariably includes records, album covers, and musical instruments, all rendered unusable and surreal through restructuring and distortion. He also continues to compose and perform music and produces videos that ingeniously integrate clips about the meaning and production of sound.
Marclay's innovative approach to printmaking reflects his fascination with the vinyl record, which itself is an object that has been engraved. In 1990, at the invitation of Judith Solodkin of Solo Press, Marclay completed this print using records as readymade printing plates, just as a traditional printmaker uses a copperplate or woodblock. First he experimented with several monotypes, fine-tuning the printing process so that the records would not crack. To make this Untitled edition, he selected a variety of 10- and 12-inch records (all old 78 RPMs with wide grooves), placed them in a specially designed support to prevent breakage, then inked them using a roller and ran them through the press. The overlapping ghostlike representations on the paper capture the variety of moirT patterns and concentric designs that the printed records produced. Mimicking the commercial four-color printing process, Marclay mixed black ink with yellow, magenta, and cyan, producing further optical vibrations.
While at Solo Press, Marclay also experimented with printing records on old Beatles' album covers. In the late 1990s, with Goya-Girl Press in Baltimore, he began a series of photolithographs based on snapshots of instruments. More recently he printed a boxed set of digital prints at Muse [X] Editions in Los Angeles that documents a project involving musical scores posted on the streets of Berlin. Marclay has also created printed works to "publicize" fictional performances and recordings, as well as several editioned multiples that reflect his fascination with objects that create sound.
Publication excerpt from an essay by Judy Hecker, in Deborah Wye, Artists and Prints: Masterworks from The Museum of Modern Art, New York: The Museum of Modern Art, 2004, p. 248.