Chinatown, LA: Not Where Chloe Beautifies
  • Chinatown, LA: Not Where Chloe Beautifies
Black Mirror Shooting: It was a dolly shot with the set made to look like a non-descript hotel room. The sequence started with Chloe Sevigny sitting on a bed talking on a landline phone. She ends her conversation, puts the phone down, stands up, walks to the edge of the room facing the lens, and the camera begins pulling back, rolling away from her down the dolly track, in a slow steady fade. Director Doug Aitken rode the camera-crane/boom down the thirty feet of track. A male flamenco dancer then stepped in between Chloe and the camera and started dancing, tapping his feet in a 16th beat-patterned rhythm. One measure in, the twenty drummers started playing to his foot-stomp. Drummers were lined up facing each other on either side of the dolly track, and we cycled beats down the line like a millipede walking.

Bordering the shot of the hotel room were four stripper poles. Once Aitken had pulled back far enough, gymnast/strippers entered and acrobatically dominated the pole dance. What these girls did on the poles was unreal. Olympic spinning, hoisting themselves up and down, and holding their bodies perpendicular to the poles. The camera continued pulling back to reveal the drum line and the beats cycling down. Lights dimmed and brightened from spots. Chloe stood, staring at the camera, unblinking, and on a cue, the drummers switched the millipede cycle to an all out, unison run.

The combination of disparate audio/visual elements is Aitken’s thing. And he does this thing very well. He’s an artist with crazy ideas, and the where-with-all to actualize them. He has a plan, and a script, but he’ll deviate quickly, adapting instantaneously to make an idea work. Now onto Greece, to the floating barge theatre and the slaughterhouse lined with black mirrors and five channels of film projected and reflected on a series of screens. “It is this humble, concrete, remote space,” Aitken says of the slaughterhouse, “You could walk by and not notice, but when you walk in, there’s a vortex.