The artist, known for his outdoor film installations and art "happenings," is projecting video all around the Hirshhorn's cyllindrical, concrete 82-foot-tall exterior. It'll take 11 high-definition video projectors to cover the whole space.
Because the piece covers the Hirshhorn's entire outer surface, it's impossible to see the whole of "SONG 1" at once -- to get the full experience, you'll have to walk around the building, drive or bike by it, fly over it.
(Another suggestion: Try looking at "SONG 1" from the Crystal City DoubleTree's revolving restaurant for a multi-jurisdictional, alcoholic art experience. You might be able to see it from afar.)
Like most movies, "SONG 1" has a soundtrack. Unlike most movies, the soundtrack features just one song: dozens of versions of “I Only Have Eyes for You.” Contributing artists include Beck, James Murphy of LCD Soundsystem, Banhart, Mountains, CFCF, High Places, No Age and Lucky Dragons.
The Smithsonian's promotional materials describe "SONG 1" loftily:
“Aitken works at the intersection of nature, the urban landscape, cinema, music and architecture,” said Hirshhorn deputy director and chief curator Kerry Brougher, who organized the exhibition. “With ‘SONG 1’ the artist develops a new vocabulary to turn the world of the moving image inside out. He directs the tempo of life around the museum. The façade of the Hirshhorn is not merely a screen for the projection of some fictional cinematic world—it is a turntable of contemporary life.”
The Washington Post got into the more practical side of the exhibition with its piece describing the technological and bureaucratic efforts "SONG 1" demanded. Leave it to D.C.: the Federal Aviation Administration got involved with this project since there were concerns the installation may interfere with pilots landing or taking off from Reagan National Airport.
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