Doug Aitken

WS- Doug Aitken, "Interiors" Detail
Doug Aitken, in collaboration with The Fabric Workshop and Museum, Philadelphia, Interiors, 2002. Production image. Dimensions vary with installation. Edition of 4 + artist proof.

Doug Aitken’s collaborative project with The Fabric Workshop and Museum (FWM), Interiors, comprises a series of filmic narratives projected onto an architectural fabric structure. Shot in locations around the world, the constituent narratives initially appear to be unrelated. One sequence depicts a businessman in a Tokyo penthouse at sunset talking to himself, another portrays an African American man wandering around a bombed-out neighborhood in Los Angeles. As the viewer moves through the installation, the rhythms in the sound element of each narrative grow increasingly synchronized. Eventually, the sound components of each join into one rhythm, growing faster and faster into a moment of complete visual and audible transformation. The moment passes, and the sound for each segment falls back into its own disparate, random rhythm, but the individual stories are each affected and changed by the temporary alignment. Interiors offers flashing moments of order in an ever-changing world.  

Each of these narratives is fictional, and carefully scripted and arranged by Aitken. For example, the man in the Tokyo penthouse is actually an auctioneer from the Tokyo fish market; the African American man is, in reality, a member of the hip-hop duo, Outkast; another segment takes place in a vast, symmetrical helicopter factory and shows a performance choreographed by a professional dancer. These rich, saturated environments are vividly portrayed in the striking imagery for which the artist is known.  

While at FWM, Aitken experimented with a wide array of reflective, transparent, and opaque materials, which were stretched onto a variety of architectural forms. These fabric-covered shapes were used in the filming of the piece to achieve special visual and lighting effects; they are also a part of the final installation, serving as the scrims onto which the videos are projected. These sculptural experiments allowed the artist to continue his ongoing conceptual explorations while breaking out of the conventional narrative structure and the bounded two-dimensional frame. Moving through the physical installation, visitors actively participate in the poetic construction of various themes that run through this work, including ideas about mapping, navigation, and placing oneself in new realities. 

Artist Bio

American, born 1968, lives in Los Angeles.

Born in Redondo Beach, California, Doug Aitken received his BFA from the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena in 1991. In the 1990s Aitken became known for his video installations, which involve a productive cross-pollination of styles borrowed from television advertising, Hollywood cinema, experimental and documentary film, as well as the music video genre—a blend he refers to as “pure communication.” Aitken was awarded the International Prize at the Venice Biennale in 1999, the Larry Aldrich Foundation Award in 2000, the Nam Jun Paik Art Center Prize in 2012, and the Americans for the Arts National Arts Award: Outstanding Contributions to the Arts in 2016. His work has appeared in solo exhibitions at venues such as the Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris (2002); the Serpentine Gallery, London (2001); and the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles (2000, 2016). Major group shows include Between Here and There: Passages in Contemporary Photography at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York (2010); Let’s Entertain (organized by the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, 2000); Performing Architecture at Tate Britain, London (2013); the Biennale of Sydney 2000 (Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney); and the 1997 and 2000 Whitney Biennials (Whitney Museum of American Art, New York).