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Beck, Cat Power, and Others Go ‘Station to Station’

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Nate von Zumwalt

Is a film really a film if it’s actually more of a kinetic collage that weaves through canyons and countrysides, picking up Beck or Cat Power or the Kansas City Marching Cobras along the way? We like to think so, and Doug Aitken, the ever-inventive multimedia artist, often makes it so.

Aitken’s newest project, Station to Station, can seem inscrutable at first. The Aitken-prescribed tagline, “62 one-minute films. Atlantic to Pacific. 4000 Miles,” does little to illuminate the experience provided by his film. In practical terms, Aitken hitched a ride on a really fucking cool train with a bunch of other artists, journeyed across the country to pick up even more artists for ride-along performances, and stopped in various towns to join their unique creative happenings.

The entire experience is documented in 62 disparate 1-minute short films (get an idea, here) that remain remarkably cohesive thanks to their singular connective tissue—unbridled creativity. You’re in the presence of an auctioneer for one minute, a smoke artist (not what you think) the next, and a hitchhiker after that. Framed, quite literally, through the viewfinder of a train’s windows, the final product is a beautifully moving nod to America’s boundless creative culture.

Doug Aitken premiered the resulting film Station to Station as part of the New Frontier program at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival. The film is now making an exclusive weeklong release at the Nuart Theatre in Los Angeles, with special guests and Q&As during its time there. Click here for tickets and more info.

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