This book works as an adaptation for Christian Marclay’s Telephones (1995), precursor to his following video collages, such as Video Quartet (2002), Crossfire (2007), The Clock (2010), 48 War Movies (2019), Subtitled (2019) and Doors (2022). Scenes were sampled from movies rented at video stores in VHS format and edited into a seven-minute-long montage. The structure of the video was simple; the cut-up scenes follow the course of a phone conversation from beginning to end. Something that revealed a clash of technologies, behavioural patterns, sound effects and cultural references associated with audio and visual communication, expressed through various dramatic genres that characterise our collective memory of cinema.

Oddly enough, almost thirty years later, its relevance seems to have grown rather than diminished, largely because it emerged at the very moment that cell phones made their initial appearance into popular consumerist culture and digital technology was overtaking analogue film. This publication is an attempt to see how such a moving image work could be translated into a book format. The fragmentary and chance quality, which is at the heart of any collage process, is exemplified here by allowing the reader to mix and match images. ‘Telephones’ is part of the ongoing LiberArs series and brings together stills of the visual track, a transcription of the soundtrack and a conversation between Christian Marclay and Yuval Etgar during the 2020 lockdown—befittingly, over the phone.


Christian Marclay is a visual artist and composer. Marclay’s work started exploring the world of sound in the late 1970s, but his activity has extended to all the registers of the visual arts since then: assemblages, installations, photographs, prints, paintings, videos and films. As a performer, he has recorded both solo and in collaboration with many musicians, including John Zorn, William Hooker, Elliott Sharp, Otomo Yoshihide, Butch Morris, Shelley Hirsch or Okkyung Lee. One of his most hypnotic pieces is The Clock, awarded with the Golden Lion at the 54th Venice Biennale (2011).

Yuval Etgar is an art historian and curator, specialising in the history and theory of collage and image appropriation. He holds a PhD from the Ruskin School of Art, University of Oxford, and is currently acting as Director of Research and Exhibitions at Luxembourg + Co. gallery, as well as Adjunct Curator at the Bauhaus Foundation, Tel Aviv. Notable recent publications and exhibitions include Louise Nevelson: Out of Order, John Stezaker: At the Edge of Pictures, and The Ends of Collage.

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