Friday, January 19, 2007

Doug Aitken takes Manhattan


Tuesday artist Doug Aitken unveiled his fragmentary film, Sleepwalkers, on the exterior walls of the Museum of Modern Art. The scale of the piece is amazing as it is meant to be viewed from the street as people pass by. Commissioned by Creative Time and MoMA, the build up for the public art piece has been pretty major, with a full-scale movie poster campaign in the subways and a feature in every New York culture publication. The mayor was there for the launch, ‘nuff said. The film, or perhaps it’s more correct to say films, are silent, telegraphic, and slick. It’s an all-star cast (as in famous actors and singers), but my favorite moments were those of pure abstraction. Aitken shoots the architecture of the MoMA building and New York itself with a combination of austerity and the punctuated––literally a kind rhythm or tempo to the images that at one point creates an ersatz strobe light effect. This is public art, but for a public that views from a distance, creating a kind of double voyeur: the restless city watching itself shifting around through a filmic sleepless night. The nonlinear technique Aitkin has been playing for a while certainly lends itself to this mode. The city as a remote but powerful player in these mini dramas is critical to the piece, from how the film is projected onto the surfaces of the building to the actual cityscape growing out from around the images.

January 16–February 12, 2007
Evenings, 5:00–10:00 P.M.
Free