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Doug Aitken

 

Doug Aitken uses video and photography as artistic tools to investigate the global landscape. A member of the first generation raised on music videos, the artist engages the thrilling and seductive strategies of that entertainment medium to create art that is exceedingly pleasurable even as it raises questions of global displacement, disappearing landscapes, and the often overwhelming hyperkinesis of contemporary life. For Monsoon (1995), Aitken traveled to Jonestown, Guyana, to visit the site of the 1978 People's Temple mass suicide, only to find that this historic place was being reclaimed by the rain forest that surrounds it. Let's Entertain includes a three-monitor video installation, these restless minds (1998), which examines a different kind of geography and spectacle--the contemporary American landscape and the distinct poetry of the American auctioneer. Seated by escalators and standing in empty parking lots, the auctioneers call nameless lots to absent auction crowds. These scenes are intercut with images of highways, truck stops, oil wells, and radar installations, which seem to comment on our need to communicate and remain in motion as the nearly unintelligible linguistic somersaults of the auctioneers wash over us. The spinning, frenzied vortex of sound alludes to the overload of information that pervades contemporary society. Aitken seeks to "bring the viewer toward something a bit more intangible, providing... a sense of discovery and questioning." He was awarded the International Prize at the 1999 Venice Biennale for his installation Electric Earth (1999).

Doug Aitken biography from Let's Entertain: Life's Guilty Pleasures, Walker Art Center, 2000.

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