John Edwards Lecture 2012: Liz Diller and Christian Marclay in conversation

Thurs 6 December 2012 7pm

  • Liz Diller. Courtesy Iwan Baan
  • The High Line. Courtesy Iwan Baan
  • Alice Tully Hall. Courtesy Iwan Baan
  • Christian Marclay, The Clock, 2010. Single channel video, duration: 24 hours. © The Artist. Photo: Ben Westoby. Courtesy White Cube
  • Christian Marclay, Lip Lock, 2000. Altered tuba and pocket trumpet, 87.6 x 50.8 x 45.7 cm. © The Artist. Courtesy White Cube

The AF’s headline event and trans-disciplinary meeting of minds in 2012 presented architect Liz Diller (Diller Scofidio + Renfro) in conversation with artist Christian Marclay. A headline annual event which couples a global leading architect in conversation with a contemporary from a separate discipline the John Edwards Lecture provides a unique opportunity for the public to engage in a lively conversation across borders, offering a wide-ranging discussion of architecture and its relationship to the wider world.

Aside from keeping the rain out and producing some usable space, architecture is nothing but a special-effects machine that delights and disturbs the senses.
- Liz Diller

Diller and Marclay both studied at Cooper Union, New York City, in the late 1970s, and swiftly emerged to become dynamic voices within New York’s experimental art scene of the time, materializing ideas and synthesizing disciplines in installations and multi-media performances. For both practitioners mediatisation, technology, performance and the notion of the audience were topics up for transformation, play and dispute.

They are not content to leave the sink, the toilet stall, the elevator, the fire stairway alone. They make them all into events. They make the most mundane elements into the language of their artistic invention.
- Barry Bergdol, chief architecture and design curator, Museum on Modern Art, New York, on the work of Diller Scofidio + Renfro (2010)

In 2002 the pair collaborated on Diller + Scofidio’s Blur Building, for the 2002 Swiss Expo. A non-building composed of fog, an architecture of atmosphere, floating on Lake Neuchatel, the pavilion, described by Diller as ‘a spectacle with nothing to see,’ was accompanied by an immersive acoustic installation by Christian Marclay.

We were delighted to welcome Liz Diller and Christian Marclay to Tate Modern’s stage for a conversation exploring the porosities and possibilities of architecture, the city, perception, visual culture, and more.

I've always used found objects, images and sounds, and collaged them together, and tried to create something new and different with what was available. To be totally original and start from scratch always seemed futile. I was more interested in taking something that existed and was part of my surroundings, to cut it up, twist it, turn it into something different; appropriating it and making it mine through manipulations and juxtapositions.
- Christian Marclay

Elizabeth Diller is a founding principal of Diller Scofidio + Renfro – a 100 person interdisciplinary design studio that integrates architecture with the visual and performing arts – and is a Professor of Architecture at Princeton University.

Diller Scofidio + Renfro's acclaimed international body of work includes: Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts in New York, encompassing the redesign of Alice Tully Hall, the renovation and expansion of The Juilliard School, the Hypar Pavilion Lawn and Restaurant, and the expansion of the School of American Ballet; the High Line, an urban park situated on an obsolete elevated railway stretching through New York City; and the Institute of Contemporary Art, the first new museum to be built in Boston in 100 years.  In 1999-2004, the MacArthur Foundation presented Ms. Diller and Mr. Scofidio with the 'genius' award for their commitment to integrating for their commitment to integrating architecture with issues of contemporary culture.

Projects currently in construction and design include: the Broad Art Museum in Los Angeles; the Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive at the University of California, Berkeley; the Museum of Image & Sound on Copacabana Beach in Rio de Janeiro and the City Garden public park and cultural center in Aberdeen, Scotland. Installation and performance projects recently completed include Open House (in collaboration with Droog); How Wine Became Modern for SFMOMA; Be Your Self with the Australian Dance Theatre; the Exit (Terre Natale) exhibition accompanying the United Nations Conference on Climate Change (COP15) in Copenhagen; Traveling Music for Evento 2009 in Bordeaux; Chain City for the 2008 Venice Biennale 11th International Architecture Exhibition; and Arbores Laetae for the 2008 Liverpool Biennial. 

Diller and Scofido were recently made fellows of the Royal Institute of British Architects and inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Other prestigious awards and honors received by Diller Scofidio + Renfro include: the National Design Award from the Smithsonian; the Brunner Prize from the American Academy of the Arts and Letters; an Obie for an off-Broadway theater production; the AIA President’s Award; the AIA Medal of Honor; and AIA Design Awards for numerous projects. In 2003, the Whitney Museum of American Art held a retrospective of the studio’s work, recognizing the firm’s unorthodox practice.

Christian Marclay has explored the fusion of fine art and audio cultures over the past 30 years; transforming sounds and music into a visible, physical form through performance, collage, sculpture, installation, photography and video.

Marclay began his exploration into sound and art through performances with turntables in 1979, while he was still a student. Early work would go on to fragment and re-assemble vinyl records and their covers, often transforming musical instruments or objects to create visual puns. Over the last decade, Marclay has created ambitious work in a variety of media. Works include the video Guitar Drag (2000) featuring a Fender Stratocaster being dragged behind a pick-up truck along rough country roads in Texas; Video Quartet (2002), a large, four-screen projection composed of an elaborate audio-visual collage evoking pop culture, appropriation art and sampling, featuring hundreds of clips of actors and musicians making sound or playing instruments from old Hollywood films; and Crossfire (2007), a four-screen installation that surrounds the viewer with clips of actors handling and discharging guns directly at the viewer - at once a rhythmic musical composition and an incisive re-imagining of one of cinema’s most common tropes.

More recently Marclay created the The Clock (2010) for which he was awarded the Golden Lion at the 2011 Biennale di Venezia, Composed of thousands of edited fragments from a vast range of films The Clock is a 24-hour, single-channel video that examines how time, plot and duration are depicted in cinema, whilst also acting as a working timepiece that is synchronised to the local time zone.

Christian Marclay was born in California in 1955, raised in Switzerland and now lives in New York and London. He has exhibited widely, including solo exhibitions at LACMA, Los Angeles (2011), LEEUM Samsung Museum of Art, Seoul (2010), Whitney Museum of Amercian Art, New York (2010), Musée d’Art Moderne et Contemporain, Geneva (2008), Cité de la Musique, Paris (2007) Moderna Museet, Stockholm, Sweden (2006), Barbican Art Gallery, London (2005), Seattle Art Museum, Seattle (2004), Tate Modern, London (2004), UCLA Hammer Museum, Los Angeles (2003), and the SFMoMA, San Francisco (2001). Christian Marclay also continues to collaborate with musicians, including recent performances with Steve Beresford, Okkyung Lee, Shelley Hirsch and Otomo Yoshihide. 

Supported by:

Estate of Francis Bacon

NB: At the request of participants, the complete video recording of this event has not been uploaded to the internet. Should you be interested in viewing the complete conversation for research purposes, please contact The Architecture Foundation.