Tehching (aka Sam) Hsieh’s approach to performance art is one that defies typical dismissals of the form. You can’t really say, “Anyone can do that crap” about a guy who stays in one room for an entire year, structuring his sleep and (basically non-existent) social schedule around a Herculean commitment to punching a time clock every hour on the hour, and documenting his appearance in a single film frame…all for art’s sake. This was only the second of five similarly daunting “One Year Performance” feats, although the others didn’t yield movies.
By now, the basic idea behind Hsieh’s film has been endlessly streamlined by people who have likely/definitely never heard of him. Scour YouTube for a minute or two and you will surely uncover a plethora of quirky homemade videos whose draw lies along the lines of, “Some guy took a picture of himself every day for a whole year! Wow! Look at his beard grow!” Cultural critics call that sort of thing “kitsch.” It’s cute, but there’s no real struggle involved, whereas the guy who did it first had the “inhuman discipline” aspect down about as solidly as any sane (?) person is ever going to achieve. So why settle for a lesser time-lapse movie when you don’t have to? Time Clock Piece is a thought-provoking meditation on how the concepts of “time” and “work” figure into the much bigger (or smaller?) concept of “life.” There’s some further reading here, if you’re interested.