LED lit lightbox
66 x 70 x 8.25 inches
Doug Aitken’s works grab the eye in a split second. Just as quickly, they invite second looks. Then the game is on: what had seemed obvious becomes complex and open to interpretation.
From far away, Aitken’s new horizon (2009) resembles the shiny blue star on the Cowboys’ helmet. The oval glow at its center recalls the glare of bright lights on a glossy curved surface. From up close, however, it is apparent that Aitken’s nearly six-foot-tall star is actually a laser-sharp photograph of a city’s coastline, shot at night from a plane or helicopter. The Los Angeles artist and filmmaker has mounted his photographic transparency onto an LED light-box. This causes the lights depicted in the image to do what they actually do in the real world: illuminate their surroundings. The picture comes alive as it eliminates the difference between doing and showing, function and form.
Aitken has also used a computer to digitally manipulate the image, making its left and right halves into mirror images of each other. Like a high-tech Rorschach ink blot, the perfectly symmetrical image emphasizes the artifice at the heart of Aitken’s photographs and films. Many of his movies unfold slowly, some across several screens, not telling stories so much as evoking moods and creating atmospheres. Like them, new horizon never lets viewers forget that we are looking at a still image, as it draws us into a drama both serene and strange, simultaneously commonplace and extraordinary.Return to Collection