Doug Aitken was born in Redondo Beach, California in 1968 and currently lives and works in Los Angeles and New York. Aitken’s body of work ranges from photography, sculpture, and architectural interventions, to films, sound, single and multi-channel video works, and installations.
His work has been featured in numerous solo and group exhibitions around the world, in such institutions as the Whitney Museum of American Art, The Museum of Modern Art, and the Centre Pompidou in Paris. Since the mid-1990s, Aitken has created installations by employing multiple screens. Diamond Sea was presented at the 1997 Whitney Biennial and his Electric Earth installation drew international attention and earned him the International Prize at the Venice Biennale in 1999.
The following year, Glass Horizon, an installation comprising a projection of a pair of eyes onto the façade of the Vienna Secession building after it had closed for the night, showcased an interest in architectural structures and in art that interacts with urban environments. In 2001, Aitken’s exhibition at London’s Serpentine Gallery used the entire building for the complex installation New Ocean.
In 2006, Aitken produced Broken Screen: 26 Conversations with Doug Aitken (DAP, 2006), a book of interviews with twenty-six artists who aim to explore and challenge the conventions of linear narrative. Interviews included Robert Altman, Claire Denis, Werner Herzog, Rem Koolhaas, Kenneth Anger and others.
In the winter of 2007, Aitken’s Sleepwalkers was presented at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. The project includes the actors Donald Sutherland and Tilda Swinton, musicians Seu Jorge and Cat Power. Five interlocking vignettes shown through eight projections were displayed upon the exterior walls of the museum so as to be visible from the street. In 2008, Aitken produced another large scale outdoor film installation, titled Migration for the 55th Carnegie International show titled “Life on Mars” in Pittsburgh, PA. The work features wild animals of North America, curiously inhabiting, empty and desolate hotel rooms filmed across America. He also produced a collection of photographs, 99 Cent Dreams, which captures “moments between interaction” to create a 21st century nomadic travelogue.
In October 2009, Aitken’s Sonic Pavilion opened to the public. The pavilion is located in the forested hills of Brazil, at INHOTIM a new cultural foundation. The Sonic Pavilion provides a communal space to listen to the sounds of the earth as they are recorded through highly sensitive microphones buried close to a mile deep into the ground and carried back into the pavilion through a number of speakers. The sound heard inside the pavilion is the amplified sound of the moving interior of the earth.
Continuing his work in innovative outdoor projects, Aitken presented his latest large-scale film and architecture installation, Frontier, on the Tiber river’s Isola Tiberina in the heart of Rome in November of 2009. His immersive installation and performance titled Black Mirror was presented in Athens and Hydra, Greece in 2011.
In March 2012, he unveiled SONG 1 for the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden. Aitken illuminated the entire façade of the Hirshhorn’s iconic building, transforming it with seamlessly projected moving images and an urban soundscape. Using eleven high-definition video projectors, Aitken seamlessly blended imagery to envelop the Museum’s exterior, creating a work that redefines cinematic space.