Throughout Doug Aitken's career, alongside his films and individual photographs, large-format lightboxes have played an increasingly important role in his work. Aitken’s attention is focused on the possibility of finding new, strangely fragmented forms of representation: the terms seemingly chosen at random from an endless store of words only cut out the areas of the photographic image covered by the outlines of their individual letters.
In certain works, Aitken goes one step further. Alongside his continuing use of photographic likenesses and source materials, the surfaces of the works increasingly include mirrors, drawing the viewer and the immediate surroundings into a predefined form and occupying them. Other works display an entirely altered surface structure: deep craters are dug into the pictorial space, leaving behind a peculiar, seemingly self-erasing impression.
Press release, Doug Aitken, Galerie Eva Presenhuber, Zurich, 2012
Aitken believes that as we move forward, the viewer’s role will change and be far less passive. As new forms of art making are created that are living, interactive and continuously changing, so too will the viewer have continuously changing dialogues with these artworks. It is important to change the way art is seen and find alternatives that move beyond the traditional role of the viewer as voyeur and spectator. In Aitken’s work the viewer is immersed, activating the work and being activated by it.
Doug Aitken is an American artist and filmmaker. Defying definitions of genre, he explores every medium, from film and installations to architectural interventions.
His work has been featured in numerous exhibitions around the world, in such institutions as the Whitney Museum of American Art, The Museum of Modern Art, the Vienna Secession, the Serpentine Gallery in London and the Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris. He participated in the both the 1997 and 2000 Whitney Biennials, and earned the International Prize at the Venice Biennale in 1999 for the installation “electric earth”. Aitken received the 2012 Nam June Paik Art Center Prize, and the 2013 Smithsonian Magazine American Ingenuity Award: Visual Arts. In 2016 he received the Americans for the Arts National Arts Award: Outstanding Contributions to the Arts. In 2017 Aitken became the inaugural recipient of the Frontier Art Prize, a new contemporary art award that supports an artist to pursue bold projects that challenge the boundaries of knowledge and experience to reimagine the future of humanity.