Doug Aitken’s Sleepwalkers, the eight screen video installation on the façade of Moma, may be the most breathtaking event of the year. Aitken previously contributed to Ecotopia, an ecologically alarming exhibition at International Center of Photography, with his work “plateau”, a model industrial city made up of entirely Fedex boxes. Continuing to explore the city life, Aitken now reflects the ordinary lives of post 9/11 New Yorkers to the big screen. The ‘architecture’ of Moma, in his words, is ‘transformed into a moving, flowing space.’ The walls that once provided for the enclosed experience of a museum visit are converted into transitive screens that reflect the daily lives of the city dwellers. Sleepwalkers is produced with the support of Creativetime, a nonprofit organization that presents contemporary art works. Producing at large scale is what Creativetime owes its uniqueness to; they aim to produce that which is too big to ignore, “something that has the impact of the unequivocal.” The images glide through the three sides of the building, as the audience falls into the nostalgia of an open air theatre. Each evening until February 12th, the busy crowd of the metropolis is offered a chance to feel small and not so important, as they would if it were “Gone with the Wind” on the big screen.

The five Sleepwalkers are meant to represent Midtown dwellers and accordingly, they perform synchronized mundane activities; such as waking up, going to the bathroom, going to work etc. The videos almost become emblematic of our own small scaled, ordinary lives; only that the actors are not ordinary at all. Tilda Swanton, the ice-cold Narnia princess, plays the office worker overloaded with the photocopies. An image of Swanton, in a dull suit, looking for a cab, is hardly convincing. Her glamour supersedes her role as “one of us”, turning the entire bore into a joy to watch. Same goes with Ryan Donowho, who plays a bicycle messenger, but is too good looking to be one that you wait for someone to discover and make him a star while he’s riding his bicycle. The greatest pleasure of all is seeing Chan Marshall, a.k.a Cat Power, rise up to the day with her blue nail polish on and get to her job as a blue collar worker. The hip characters with their extremely unique physical appearances, when reflected on a large glass screen are a great amusement rather than emblems of the routine big city life.

The five synchronized characters stray away from their pre-determined paths as the background turns black and the red street light gets transformed into hypnotizing big circles. Chan Marshall spins around with her hair gone wild, a pretty unexpected line of movement considering how still she and her guitar can be even during a live performance, while beautiful Ryan Donowho starts playing the drums. (According to our holy source of knowledge Wikipedia, he was, in real life, discovered by an agent while drumming on a bucket in New York City) Aitken’s message is not clear, though. Depending on your mood, he may be a severe critic of the high paced city life and give out the message that “we are all made of stars” if only we could find some resort in our long forgotten hobbies. If you’re not feeling that great that day, he may be one of those artists, interested solely in aesthetics and simply wants to amaze with gorgeous moody images of strikingly beautiful people. Nevertheless the 14 minutes videos are remarkable for their size and their characters, thus are endurable even when it’s freezing cold outside; not the greatest weather for a night out with popcorns, soda and a movie to watch.