A plot summary of Asha Schechter’s film The Bucket, 2015: A quadracopter drone, hungry from a long night surveilling Los Angeles from above, decides to spin by the Western Avenue Kentucky Fried Chicken early one morning, only to find the restaurant is closed. The drone flies around and around the structure, even buzzing through the drive-through, but no luck. This KFC is an LA landmark: A Gheryesque deconstruction of the iconic chicken bucket explodes out of the ground, spiraling upward, fracturing and twisting as it goes—an alarmingly forward architectural statement for a fast-food chain, even for a flagship franchise.
The video is remarkable as much for the oddity of its subject as for what surrounds it. Lazy early-morning traffic moves through the streets; in effortless synchronization two cars turn left into the same intersection from opposite directions and move away again in perfect concord. As the quadracopter leaves we see the sunlight imprisoned in the morning haze over the city, all pearlescent and ground-glass-smooth—there’s nothing quite like it. These details transmit a kind of gentle optimism in the work and give it an air of curiosity as opposed to a rote critique of our commercialized Western lifestyle, a real risk for a film where a robot probes a brand known for the worst excesses of fried, factory-farmed food. The Bucket instead feelslike a study of how weird objects that we create interact on their own, relating to one another in a language we don’t speak. The feeling that soon we will become as dully familiar with how things look from the air as we are with how they look from the ground almost fades away, revealing that morning in LA can be really great, and even our drones know it.