Virtual Memory: Time-Based Art and the Dream of Digitality
Christian Marclay’s Two Clocks
This chapter defines the analog, the digital, and the virtual through the collected writings of Henri Bergson. It begins with a meditation on Bergson’s critique of the cinematograph: his perplexing claim that cinema is not a time-based medium. But the cinematograph is only a metaphor for synchronic, deterministic, and numeric or “digital” ways of thinking. Bergson employs a suite of other metaphors that allow us to unsolder these terms from their associated media. New understandings of the digital, the analog, and the virtual are revealed in Christian Marclay’s The Clock (2010), a twenty-four-hour video installation made entirely of found footage of clocks and references to the time. The answer to the question “Is this clock analog or digital?” unsolders these two terms from their medium-specific connotations and reveals them to be less fully opposed than one might think.