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Arts and Entertainment

Artist Doug Aitken Planning An Explorable Underwater Installation

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Artist Doug Aitken is going big for his homecoming. The Southern California native is not only getting a career-spanning exhibit at the MOCA, he’s also going to put some new art in the Pacific Ocean.

Aitken's art career to date has been nothing if not high profile. In 1999, he won the coveted International Prize at the Venice Biennale exhibition for his "electric earth" installation, which was comprised of a set of projected images. In 2007, four of his videos (starring luminaries such as Tilda Swinton) were splashed across the walls of the MoMA in Manhattan. Then, in 2013, he curated his "Station to Station" project, which included (among other things) a train that traveled from New York to California. The train was covered in lights that interacted with different variables, like the surrounding temperature and the speed of the train.

So no, Aitken isn't the type to make paper mache fruit. He skews towards projects that are huge, not just in size, but also in the scope of their statements.

Aitken will return to L.A. this weekend as MOCA unveils "Doug Aitken: Electric Earth," a survey of his life's work. The exhibit will include seven video installations dating back to 1997, collages, physical installations, graphic design, and more.

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But, true to Aitken form, the artist was not satisfied with just a retrospective review of his work. While curating "Electric Earth," he also conceived of an idea to to put some underwater installations off of Catalina Island, according to the New York Times (don't ask us how Aitken made that mental leap).

Aitken plans to submerge three "pavilions" in the water by the town of Avalon on Catalina Island. The structures, suspended underwater, will be like mini caves that are plastered with mirrors and rock—a juxtaposition of nature and technology. The caves will be submerged at five, 10 and 50 feet underwater.

How are you supposed to experience these installations if they're in the ocean? You have to go in the water, of course. Visitors will don diving gear and do a bit of swimming to get into the pavilions. According to a document from the Avalon City Council, the installations will be free to the public and are "accessible to divers/swimmers of all skill levels."

And, as reported at The Log, the source for all your boating and fishing news in California, the installations will be lit up at night and will have a three-month run. There'll also be a floating platform on the harbor to "serve as a staging area for divers or viewing of the underwater sculptures."

We have yet to get word on when these underwater caves will be in the water, or when they'll be accessible to the public. The New York Times says that the caves will be installed next month. LAist has left messages for both MOCA and the Catalina Island Chamber of Commerce.

The Times adds that there'll be a "happening" at Catalina Casino (which is in Avalon) on the weekend of November 5. The party, which may include 24 hours of music and performances, will happen in conjunction with the underwater installations. So, at the very least, we can assume that the caves will be in the water by November 5.

We'll keep you posted about the status of the Aitken's underwater project. Meanwhile, you can start saving up for a GoPro that takes underwater shots.

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