Dough Aitken, Now, 2010, Now, 2009 and Fountain (Earth Fountain), 2012
Central to Doug Aitken’s “100 YRS” exhibition is a new “Sonic Fountain,” in which water drips from 5 rods suspended from the ceiling, falling into a concrete crater dug out of the gallery floor. The flow of water itself is controlled so as to create specific rhythmic patterns that will morph, collapse and overlap in shifting combinations of speed and volume, lending the physical phenomenon the variable symphonic structure of song. The water itself appears milky white, as if imbued and chemically altered by its aural properties, a basic substance turned supernatural. The amplified sound of droplets conjures the arrhythmia of breathing, and along with the pool’s primordial glow, the fountain creates its own sonic system of tracking time.
Behind a cavernous opening carved into the gallery’s west wall is “Sunset (black),” a sculptural work that resembles cast lava rock in texture and spells out the word SUNSET as it glows from behind, its letters forming a relic of the entropy and displacement inherent in the literal idea of a sunset. Viewed from and obscured behind a hole in the wall, the sculpture appears as cosmic debris, as if pulled from a parallel world where a sunset is only an idea, obfuscated by detritus of the age of post-everything, a reductionist standpoint between the modes of pop and minimalism, its glow fading into the next realm. Also on view is the mirrored sculpture “MORE (shattered pour)”. Like a time-piece, the work creates a kaleidoscope of reflections of all that surrounds it. As if it were a fragmented film, “MORE (shattered pour)” creates a literal manifestation of the present and aspirational escapism, which cannot be viewed without glimpsing a piece of one’s self within the work’s reflections. Another refraction of time is glimpsed through “Fountain (Earth Fountain)”, created from plexiglas letters spelling the word “ART”, through which a slurry of moist dirt is pumped, physical earth perpetually redoubling and standing in for itself. The word ART itself subverts the entropy of time, creating a holding pattern that organic matter cannot escape from. The flickering lightbox “not enough time in the day” completes the communicative supercurrent of shimmering malaise, its letters overlapping as if seen inebriated, somehow both more profound and less understandable. The work creates a cycle that is both hypnotic and inescapable.
Doug Aitken lives and works in Los Angeles and and New York. In March 2013, the Seattle Art Museum will install “Mirror,” a monumental new commission made of LED’s, permanently installed on the museum’s facade, while the Miami Art Museum will reopen its new building with the outdoor large scale projection of “sleepwalkers (miami).” In addition, SFMOMA in San Francisco is making plans for a large-scale citywide installation of Aitken’s Empire Trilogy in site-specific locations. Aitken’s work has been featured in numerous solo and group exhibitions around the world, in such institutions as the Serpentine Gallery in London, the Vienna Secession, and the Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris. He participated in the Whitney Biennial 1997 and 2000 and earned the International Prize at the Venice Biennale in 1999. Aitken’s “Sleepwalkers” exhibition at MoMA in 2007 transformed an entire block of Manhattan into a cinematic experience as he covered the museum’s exterior walls with projections. In 2009, his Sonic Pavilion opened to the public in the forested hills of Brazil at INHOTIM. Continuing his work in innovative outdoor projects, Aitken presented his film and architecture installation “Frontier” on Rome’s Isola Tiberina in 2009, the multiform artwork “Black Mirror” on a uniquely designed barge floating off Athens and Hydra Island in 2011, and “Song 1″ projected onto the circular facade of the Hirshhorn Museum in Washington, DC in 2012.