Doug Aitken
USA, 1968
Over his career Doug Aitken has moved between different media. The first works he produced after graduating from the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena already incorporated elements of sculpture and installation. Initially he used single-channel videos to explore formal issues that have become a central to his output, such as multiple points of view, the editing process, and the specific qualities of places. In the 1990s, Aitken continued to explore these issues, adding photography to his artistic repertoire and creating installations that established new relationships between the image, the viewer, and the space where they are placed. The videos of this American artist show remote landscapes that make up what he has called a ‘topography of the mind’, a kind of psychogeographic space that opens up new narrative possibilities beyond the factual aspects of the locations. Aitken shuns conventional linear narratives: his videos are edited in a way that makes time expand and contract, altering the linear perception of time viewers are accustomed to. The human figure is omnipresent in Aitken’s work. His videos are populated by characters who pass in isolation between different spaces and landscapes. In the late 1990s, he began to build structures in which to screen his videos. These installations play a role in weaving images together without following linear narrative patterns. They also place viewers in a space where they must constantly negotiate their relationship with the images projected. Interiors (2002) is a key work in the development of these structures. In this video installation, three projection screens and eight translucent silkscreen dividers are arranged to form a Greek cross around a space containing a circular bench. Because the screens are made of translucent material, viewers can move and be simultaneously present inside and outside the structure. Interiors is based on the similarities between four urban areas (located far apart). Aitken uses city nightscapes, traffic lights and architectural settings to create a megalopolis. Three different screens each show fragments of four narratives, with their respective characters. The fragments constantly recombine, with no identifiable pattern or repeated plot elements. Aitken’s work is concerned with defining an intermediate place between passivity and speed, between the immobility of individuals and the acceleration of the communication systems that surround them.
Neus Miró