Dissecting then reintegrating video, sound, narratives, and the moving image, Doug Aitken:
Electric Earth is a survey examination of the Los Angeles-based artist’s experimentation with mediums and disciplines.
On view through August 27 at the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, Aitken’s dialect is amplified by films, signs, sculpture, and images that underscore contemporary culture’s disorder.
Major moving installations, from diamond sea, 1997 to electric earth, 1999, that won Aitken the International Prize at Venice Biennale the latter year, are both early multichannel video installation examples.
More recent work like SONG 1, 2012/2015 “present a landscape of the now” as described by Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) Director,
Philippe Vergne, the exhibition’s organizer with Wendy Stark Curatorial Fellow Anna Katz, in collaboration with the artist and his studios.
Through the use of multiscreen videos in SONG 1, Aitken erects a theater-in-the-round communal experience, an ongoing theme in the artist’s practice.
Here the performance-based work could be lost in sensory overload if not for the careful editing of sound and imagery,
drawing the viewer into his hypnotic visual vocabulary as a welcome protagonist.
In the installation version at the Hirshorn Museum, the artist took advantage of the circular façade like that of the antiquated audiotapes the projection begins with.
Images of singers Beck, Devendra Banhart,
No Age, and a lip-synching Tilda Swinton, covering the 1959 tune I Only Have Eyes For You recorded
by The Flamingos, are interspersed with traffic and people singing in their cars and diners. “Millions of people go by” as the lyrics say.
And they did with the museum’s location beside the National Mall in Washington DC. SONG 1 ultimately created that daily non descript anonymity among people.
A roadside motel sets an unlikely stage in migration (empire), exploring the influences of an artificial habitat on wild North American animals.
In one scene, a twangy, somewhat haunting tune plays while a horse, inside a motel room, appears to watch another horse running free on television.
In other frames, a beaver takes a bath; a thirsty deer gingerly laps at the motel’s swimming pool, and later ducks his head in the mini bar before turning away.
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