“Before microphones and television were invented, a leader had to stand in front of a crowd and bellow,” notes Rick Stengel, managing editor of TIME. “Now [one] can tweet a phrase that reaches millions in a flash. Influence was never easier—or more ephemeral.” Which makes the task of selecting TIME‘s list of the 100 most influential people in the world all the trickier. This year’s list, announced today and on newsstands tomorrow in the magazine’s April 30 issue, includes those who have wielded influence through fashion design (Sarah Burton of Alexander McQueen), exquisite gadgets (Apple CEO Tim Cook), political cartoons (Ali Ferzat), Nordic cuisine (René Redzepi of Noma), and spandex underthings (Spanx founder Sara Blakely).
Then there’s the influencer who is lauded for his way with time itself: Christian Marclay, creator of the 24-hour cinematic odyssey known as “The Clock.” Geoff Dyer was up to the task of composing a concise yet evocative summary of the video piece, which he describes as stemming from an idea “audacious in its simplicity and herculean in execution.” As for the writer’s own experience of the work—well, it’s something of a chrono-cautionary tale. “During the film’s opening run in London, I had intended to stay long enough to get the gag—10 minutes?—before hurrying on to a lunch date,” writes Dyer. “It was so hypnotic, so thrilling, that I ended up watching 20 hours over a month, arranging life and appointments (for which I was invariably late) in such a way as to catch previously unseen segments of that celluloid epic called a day.”