By Klaus Biesenbach, Peter Eleey, and Doug Aitken
Dusk falls on a cold winter evening, and five characters awaken and dress and make their way out into nighttime New York City. In Doug Aitken's sleepwalkers, these characters provide a blueprint for the city-a living, breathing mechanism fueled by the desires and ambitions of its inhabitants, who, in turn, nourish and are nourished by the city's energy, breadth, and depth.
This book, which expands on the ideas raised by the film, contains essays by Klaus Biesenbach, Chief Curator in the Department of Media at The Museum of Modern Art, and Peter Eleey, Curator and Producer at Creative Time, as well as conversations between Aitken and a variety of artists, architects, writers, and performers about different elements of city life—from the lit signage of Times Square to a taxi-driver's-eye view of the streets. The book, like the artwork, explores the intersection of ideas with the constant flow of life and energy that is New York.
A collaboration between The Museum of Modern Art and the public art organization Creative Time, sleepwalkers premiered as a projection on the facades of the Museum's building in midtown Manhattan. Although sleepwalkers is Aitken's first public artwork, the theme of give and take between individuals and their environment is one that he frequently explores. In 2001 he turned London's Serpentine Gallery, from the basement to the roof, into a complex, multipart video installation; among his best-known works is electric earth, originally created for the 1999 Venice Biennale, in which a nocturnal cityscape comes to rhythmic life as a restless young man dances through it. Includes 280 illustrations (275 color, 5 b&w).