Filmmaker Doug Aitken Goes “Station to Station” Across the United States

62 one-minute films chronicle various artists' spontaneous creativity from NYC to SF

In 2013, artist and filmmaker Doug Aitken hopped aboard a train that he himself turned into a kinetic, nomadic light art sculpture and made his way from NYC to San Francisco. Across those 4,000 miles, Aitken was joined by world-class artists—from Patti Smith to Beck, Olafur Eliasson, Urs Fischer and William Eggleston—and set into motion 10 pop-up exhibitions along the way. The ultimate result, “Station to Station,” is a feature-length movie composed of 62 one-minute-long films documenting the experience—and each segment celebrates spontaneous creativity in a vigorous, ever-changing way. The film would premiere at the Sundance Film Festival in 2015 and today it hits iTunes.

Aitken’s train featured a kinetically powered light spectacle that shifted, based upon the train’s movements and surroundings. Other artists performed or revealed location-specific work, but Danish-Icelandic innovator Olafur Eliasson also harnessed the power of the train. Within one car, Eliasson set up a “continuous drawing machine.” Therein, a metal ball is covered in paint before being dropped onto a circular, spring-hung canvas. As the ball shifted and vibrated with the train’s force, a work akin to a Spin Art piece is produced. Eliasson refers to these as continuous connected drawings, which, when viewed together, represent the entire journey from the Atlantic to the Pacific ocean. The likable simplicity of the concept is surpassed by the beauty of the results, and what they represent. And this only reflects one segment from the films 24-day adventure.

You can view “Station to Station” on iTunes for $15.

Olaf Breuning’s smokebomb artwork at the New York Station to Station happening © Doug Aitken Workshop / Station to Station, LLC