Doug Aitken’s migration (empire), 2008, addresses the problematic question of what happens when human and animal worlds collide. In this video, shot on location in motel rooms across the United States, animals are removed from their natural habitats and placed in environments built for the purpose of human mobility. As the video’s surrealist vignettes unfurl over the course of twenty-four minutes, it reveals the clear instincts that govern animal behavior: a beaver finds his way to the running water in the bathtub; an unruly bison sends furniture toppling over with its massive head; a cougar tears into pillows; rabbits frolic. An epilogue to Joslyn's Go West! exhibition, migration (empire) considers the effects of Westward expansion and its impact on the landscape while also reflecting on popularly-held notions of what constitutes the American West. Aitken explains: “It’s almost like a survey of the landscape . . . It’s a cinematic portrayal of an idea that’s somewhat fictional, futuristic, yet set within our current reality.”
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