Wednesday, April 2, 2014

project 3: preliminary artist research - Doug Aitken

The assignment for Project 3 requires the class to begin developing an artwork for public display, most likely in an outdoor location, using projectors to create a work geared towards viewing "in passing."  Although excited for the numerous possibilities that are presented in this assignment, I have experienced little outdoor projection art, having only viewed Doug Aitken's work Song 1, which was projected onto the concave surface of the Hirshorn Museum in Washington, D.C.

Having experience with this artist, and interested in investigating his works further to possibly glean information and inspiration on my own, I decided to research his work, with a focus upon his outdoor installation pieces.

Over the years, I've found that Doug Aitken has been extremely active in producing outdoor projection works, often using the environment surrounding the work to inform and strengthen its meaning.  For example, one of his most recent works, entitled Mirror (2013), is a work that was projected in Seattle on the prolific Seattle Museum of scenes taken from Seattle, the location itself.  He spent over 5 years gathering an immense duration of footage of the city in all weather conditions and times of day, which he then projected, according to real-life conditions actually occurring within the city, effectively creating a sort of hyper-realistic, yet cinematic, video immersion experience.

Looking over his famous outdoor installation pieces, I've discovered that the collision between the cinematic (created by the stylized, polished video work) and the realistic (generated by the video's projection into real-world circumstances) create a interesting friction that causes a sort of distortion of the way the viewer engages with both the work, and the location the work is featured within.  The landscape of the image becomes a necessary element of the piece itself, and all who engage and interact with the space are also forced to engage and interact with the art as well.

As well as the location of the projection, Aitken also crafts his works as not only physical pieces, but also as events, which he calls "happenings", a term invented by the Fluxus movement.  These "happenings" are often large-scale in nature, and well-publicized, planned, and funded, creating a dichotomy between the carefully controlled nature of these events, and the sporadic, unpredictable nature of reality.  Mirrors pushes and blurs this boundary, as it uses sensors and cameras focused upon real-life conditions, in order to cue in to pre-recorded video footage that mimics it.   

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