Doug Aitken Goes West

Station to Station, the latest project from American filmmaker and artist Doug Aitken, might be nearly the length of a feature film, but each of the 62 minutes is a separate segment. Together, the compilation one-minute clips tell the story of a journey from New York City to San Francisco. Traveling on a train-turned-kinetic light sculpture and making 10 stops along the way, artists from all fields joined Aitken—both inside and outside the train cars.

“With the Station to Station project, we wanted to create something that was living, moving, and changing constantly,” Aitken says. Chronicling a journey and 10 happenings spread across 4,000 miles, the film features everyone from Lawrence Weiner, Ed Ruscha, William Eggleston, Urs Fischer, and Sam Falls to Patti Smith, Beck, Giorgio Moroder, Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti, and Dan Deacon. As of today, the film is available on iTunes, but here we are pleased to exclusively host the segment featuring Chan Marshall, better known as Cat Power.

“When I spoke to Chan about the journey…she said she felt so very connected with being on the road,” Aitken continues. “She asked if she could slide into the train journey somewhere in the Mojave Desert. There’s a strength and sensitivity to her music, which is really reflected within the landscape out there.”

Despite only being 60 seconds, the resulting clip is emotionally riveting. As Power sings “Fool”  (“People with kids and children with parents / Any which way there’s no past and no present / Come along, fool / A direct hit to the sense we’re all disconnected / It’s not that it’s bad, it’s not that it’s death / It’s just that we’re all so silent”), the train reflects her sentiment, moving through a desolate, stagnant landscape. The pairing creates both a sense of vulnerability and power, two of the musician’s characteristics that Aitken loves.

“This project was artist driven and it was fascinating seeing each person who was part of it create something new and author their own experiences,” Aitken continues. “We wanted to secede away from the separation of culture—the division between art, music, film, and all the mediums-and instead see this as a single constantly changing experience fueled by ideas and cultural experimentation.” Through Aitken and the participants’ experimentations, Station to Station achieves just that: in an engaging, stimulating, and stunning manner, the gap between cultures is bridged.