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One train journey. 61 one-minute short films. An extraordinary art experience.
In the summer of 2013, a train designed as a kinetic light sculpture by artist Doug Aitken traveled from New York City to San Francisco over 24 days. Rolling into ten stations on the route, the train set in motion a series of art happenings, each unique to its location and mix of creative participants. The film includes profiles, intimate moments on the train, conversations, and performances at the happenings: Ed Ruscha describing the discoveries to be made in the great American landscape; Beck performing with a gospel choir in the Mojave desert; Jackson Browne reflecting on the influence of the railroad on his music, and many more.
Aitken’s art is digital art for a digital era. We’ve all grown used to the power of the technology at our disposal. Aiken takes it and draws our attention back to it, and makes us realise the strangeness of our technologically driven world. The eerie, but beautiful sight of a train panelled with LED screens is simultaneously extremely modern, and harking back to the days when trains were the pinnacle of innovation – when rails, not the Internet, connected the world.
To capture the excitement and variety of “Station to Station” as a 24-day art event, Aitken and his team decided to present their film version of the event as 61 short films of one minute each, each about a different person, place or project. The result is a strange, beautiful, kinetic film that serves both as a valuable document of a unique art event, and as a stand-alone artwork in itself.