Christian Marclay's cover stories

Accompanying Image: 

As the newest addition to the Sound Machine Dream team, I thought it might be polite to introduce myself before we get down to business. (Eventually I'll be playing matchmaker for a couple songs each week.)

I welcome the chance to write about music, but I spend most of my time dealing with art, to be honest. What I love, however, are those places where different worlds converge. Christian Marclay is a respected visual artist and an accomplished composer (as well as pioneer of turntablism), and he brilliantly bridges the gap between art and music in many different ways.

My own taste in music is relatively eclectic — broad enough to feel the need for backwoods banjo one day and soaring synths and vocoder action the next. Marclay's collages of record covers seem to speak to the vitality of this kind of promiscuous listening. They turn the material trail of music history into a living world, where musicians hang out across time, set aside their differences, and sit in each others laps and all that.

Although the prospect of piecing together a composition out of record covers might seem like a one-liner at first, I think it turns out to be far more thought-provoking in the end. For one, it's interesting to consider how these creations privilege the visual aspects of these records over the sonic, as Marclay finds peculiar alignments and a certain odd logic in this realm over and over again.

This is particularly stirring, I feel, as we rush into an iTunes era when album covers begin to feel increasingly endangered. (And yes, this makes me sad.) In some of Marclay's works, like the one pictured above, we get a glimpse of a hedonistic, melancholy afterlife.