March 23, 2010  |  Collection & Exhibitions
9 Screens: Take Your Time The Big Clock, 2010

Preliminary sketch for The Big Clock

In 1999, Bernadette Corporation (BC) adopted the catchphrase “Pedestrian Cinema” (or “Ped Cin”) as a way of describing a specific kind of fragmentation and dismantlement to be applied to the increasingly historicized role of moving imagery in the arts. Important to this approach is for something to lie stranded within a cine-conceptual framework, without technically being a video or a film.

“This slimy, slug-minded mystery thriller starts out dead on arrival and then, like three-day-old fish, gets really bad really fast. And it stays bad, ensnaring its star and every other cast member in its wretched net.”

A couple of clichéd sentences pulled from a bad film review are a reverse operation of the Ped Cin concept: their crude familiarity and redundancy, without context, produce an almost delicate emptiness.

Like everywhere else in the world today, MoMA has its own communications infrastructure, with secondary sign-systems and image production that perform a supporting role to its primary cultural mission. For 9 Screens, an exhibition for which five New York–based artists and collectives are creating videos for display on the nine information screens above the ticketing desk in the Museum’s lobby, Bernadette Corporation arranged and deployed the parts of this existing network to create a unique and perpetual moving image work called The Big Clock.

As institutional substratum reconfigured to perform as a site-specific video installation, the piece is both live and immobile. It utilizes three live camera feeds coming from within the Museum: next to a Rothko painting on the fourth floor, beside the moving coat racks of the coat-check area, and in front of a shelf with postcards and a custom-built clock display in the MoMA Design and Book Store. These signals are used in combination with MoMA’s actual signage software for the nine information screens, which animates images and text according to a calendar schedule. The reprogramming of this software entailed reducing the existing content, while adding custom images and text: still frames from the camera feeds, the BC logo, titles and dates of works from the Museum’s permanent collection, and the Bernadette Corporation name appearing in “MoMA Gothic” font.

At an earlier stage of the project, the title Take Your Time was haphazardly appropriated from a previous Olafur Eliasson exhibition in 2008. In the very last minutes of installing this work, its definitive title—The Big Clock—was generated from the BC acronym/abbreviation.

More than an interstice to appropriate or open up, the 9 Screens project became an interface between Bernadette Corporation and MoMA, with the artist becoming involved with the labor of a number of different departments and consultants at the Museum, such as the Technical Infrastructure Manager (Bill Moore), the Assistant Manager of Telecommunications (Danny Bruno) for the cameras; the Assistant Creative Director (Brian Bergeron) and the Visual Coordinator (Mallon Khan) in MoMA Retail; and the Software Developer Rendermonkey (Sastry Appajosyula), working with the Senior Media Developer in MoMA’s Department of Digital Media (Shannon Darrough) and the Multimedia Specialist in the Audio Visual Department (Howard Deitch)