Almost the entire second floor of the Modern Art Museum is dedicated to works by Doug Aitken, unknown to me heretofore. His website Bio page describes him as
Doug Aitken is an American artist and filmmaker. Defying definitions of genre, he explores every medium, from film and installations to architectural interventions.
As you arrive on the second floor, the visitor is greeted by Aitken’s White Phone Booth electric exhibit, setting the tone for the major installation, Song1. Here’s a YT video of the phone booth, far better than the one I took.
I was SO intrigued, so taken by Aitken’s works I swear if I won the lottery big, I’d BUILD a wing of my house just for all of his work, including a room big enough to permanently house the work Song 1.
One exhibit is called 99cent Dreams, a room of photographs, arranged in a very creative order.
In this exhibit alone, I could have spent three hours, looking at each of the 216 photos.
His works have been described as haunting – it’s a PERFECT word. His work is soulful, it speaks to the viewer, or at least it spoke to ME. Every one.
One exhibit was a bit obtuse, called Namib Desert, video and still images on three sides of a small room. A description of how the exhibit came to be is here.
But what overwhelmed me, to the point of getting goosebumps and almost teary, was the installation called Song1. I can only describe it as eerie, almost spiritual, deeply captivating, haunting. The song I Only Have Eyes for You is played for 34 minutes with images of different people lipsyncing (even Tilda Swinton looking more like David Bowie). I haven’t figured out if the people are all to be interconnected, like Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon, or are meant to be life – no one knowing any others in this video. I’m way too artistically dense to figure out all those details. I only know that I could have plopped myself down for hours watching this in a continual loop.
The screens are two sided but the visitor stands in the inner center, with six large screens surrounding you, sometimes with the same image on each, sometimes different.
My own video clips are tough to see because the room was dark so I’ll defer to this YT clip** I found, taken from when it was in Germany – it’ll give you the sense of its scale and how lilting the song is.
**I’m seeing the clip is multi-level, find the one that says Song1 to see the 3 minute clip. It also isn’t dropping in the post properly.
Okay, you asked, here’s a short video I took.
For people like me who need to be educated, here’s a great YT video of Aitken talking about the how and why of the Song1 installation. It’s long but good.
For anyone wanting more, there are YT clips to be found online of when it aired OUTSIDE, as Aitken is talking about above, at the Hirshhorn in DC. Personally, I much preferred the small dark room environment such that it had total sensory overload, a good thing.
I haven’t stopped singing I Only Have Eyes For You, that’s how deeply this exhibit affected me. It’s funny how something can get into your soul, reach inside of you so much that it never leaves. That’s what Song1 did for me.
So an extra special thanks SoundBeacher.