Doug Aitken's art is concerned with stimuli and stories that are asynchronous and fractured. Through the orchestration of multi-screen moving-image installations he has frequently touched on themes of urban isolation, emotional alienation, and expansive natural wilderness. The "characters" he directswhether humans, machines, animals, or landscapesoften exhibit uncanny behaviors or communicate in strange statements, lending Aitken's immersive audiovisual environments the sense of an unfolding waking dream. Characteristically using up to a dozen or more projectors, monitors, and speakers, Aitken delivers a multimedia experience for our time that suggests a separate category, somewhere between cinema and architectural sculpture. The lush imagery of his work often has the sophistication of a feature film, and it consciously draws on other forceful dynamics of the contemporary image-making apparatus. In this way, Aitkenalongside fellow artists Matthew Barney with his Cremaster Cycle (1994-2002) and Douglas Gordon and Philippe Parreno with Zidane: A 21st Century Portrait (2006)allies himself with a new ambition in the visual arts of the last decade that seeks to engage a broad audience by operating beyond the typical parameters of the gallery and museum.
Migration is a wonderful example of Aitken's ability to merge dramatic imagery with commentary on contemporary American culture. In the film, the movements of wild North American migratory animals are transposed upon the ubiquitous space of modern roadside hotels and motels. As the wild birds and animals inhabit these mysteriously vacant and sterile interiors, the viewer is taken on a haunting odyssey through the contemporary American landscape. Encompassing executive airport suites and desolate, nondescript inns, the film's sequences evoke a scenario in which places of temporary human habitation are confronted with instinctive and wild forces. For Life on Mars, the 2008 Carnegie International, Migration was projected on Carnegie Museum of Art's front and rear façades. With the approval of the artist, the museum is able to screen this film in three different formats: on a double-sided, free-floating screen; as a traditional single-channel projection against a flat surface; or, if possible again in the future, on the building façade. Although this version of the film is very similar to the piece shown as part of the International, the artist has added additional footage and a soundtrack to the single-channel version of the work. Migration is a captivating example of Aitken's filmic work, combining stunning cinematography and commenting on the ongoing tension and coexistence between humans and nature.
From acquisition narrative, 2009, by Douglas Fogle and Karin Campbell
Title: Artist Bio: Aitken, Doug
Los Angeles-based artist Doug Aitken's work includes photography, collage, objects, events, and publications, yet when he simultaneously, and characteristically, uses up to a dozen or more projectors, monitors, and speakers, he offers a multimedia experience that suggests a separate category, somewhere between cinema and architectural sculpture.
Aitken studied at Marymount College, Rancho Palos Verdes, California, from 1986 to 1987 and graduated from the Art Center College of Design, Pasadena, California, in 1991 with a BFA. He has been featured in solo exhibitions at venues such as Museum of Modern Art, New York (2007); 303 Gallery (2007, 2002, 1998, 1997, 1994); Aspen Art Museum (2006); Musée d'Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris and Regen Projects, Los Angeles, and Galerie Eva Presenhuber, Zürich (all in 2005); Sala Rekalde, Bilbao (2004); Taka Ishii Gallery, Tokyo (2004, 2000, 1998, 1996); Kunsthalle Zürich (2003); Victoria Miro Gallery, London (2003, 1999); Kunsthaus Bregenz, Austria (2002); Kunstmuseum Wolfsburg and Serpentine Gallery, London (both in 2001); and Vienna Secession, Berkeley Art Museum, University of California, and Dallas Museum of Art (all in 2000). Aitken has recently appeared in group exhibitions at venues including Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo, Turin (2007); Hamburger BahnhofMuseum für Gegenwart, Berlin (2006); Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago (2005); 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art, Kanazawa, Japan, Magasin 3, Stockholm, ZKM/Zentrum für Kunst und Medientechnologie, Karlsruhe, and La Colección Jumex, Mexico City (all in 2003); Tate Liverpool (2002); Walker Art Center, Minneapolis (2000-2001); Whitney Biennial, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York (2000, 1997); Biennale of Sydney, Museum of Contemporary Art, Australia, and Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles (all in 2000); and Venice Biennale (1999).—From acquisition narrative, 2009, by Douglas Fogle and Karin Campbell
Purpose: artist bio
Author: Fogle, Douglas - CMOA