“A lot of times I dance so fast that I become what’s around me.” So says the lone protagonist of Electric Earth, 1999, Doug Aitken’s hyperkinetic fable of modem life in the form of a sprawling eight-screen installation that took home the International Prize at last summer’s Venice Biennale. An uncanny cross-pollination of genre conventions sampled freely from music video, documentary, and narrative film alike, the work forged a weirdly precise portrait of urban angst, wedding installation to the vernacular vocabularies of cinema and dance. In Electric Earth as in Aitken’s previous works, the landscape—here an anonymous expanse of urban wasteland-isn’t a passive backdrop for human action, but rather its driving force. The blinking traffic lights, panning video cameras, and automatic car windows create an environment of jerky, accelerating rhythms that Aitken’s young black protagonist begins

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