Unlike Pub Crawl, in which Marclay coaxed sound from empty glasses, bottles, and cans found abandoned on the streets of East London, the new videos are comprised of thousands of still photographs. This time the artist focuses our attention on small detritus littering the streets such as cigarette butts, bottle caps, chewing gum, cotton buds, and plastic lids and straws. When played back in rapid succession, the static pictures give the illusion of motion as in a flip-book: burnt cigarettes grow back; colourful bottle caps flash and blend; hairy cotton buds wiggle; blobs of chewing gum divide and multiply like cells; and lids and straws rotate like clockwork.
Unlike traditional animation where the shooting background is consistent in maintaining spatial continuity, here the object’s background changes frantically; the flickering of images in rapid succession recalls early cinema.
Marclay’s documentation of the discarded and disposable is set in motion, transforming trash into aural and visual poetry.
We would like to thank Paula Cooper Gallery, New York, and Fraenkel Gallery, San Francisco.