303 Gallery (New York), Galerie Eva Presenhuber (Zürich), Regen Projects (Los Angeles), and Victoria Miro (London) are pleased to announce a joint presentation of the new virtual reality exhibition by Doug Aitken, Open, exclusively on Vortic. Launching on 15 February this innovative exhibition by the artist will be available to view at all four galleries’ physical spaces, where Oculus headsets will show Vortic VR, Vortic’s new virtual reality platform. Open will also be available to view on Vortic’s web and mobile app.
To book a timed slot to experience Doug Aitken: Open at 303 Gallery, please visit the schedule link here.
To book in Zürich: www.presenhuber.com
To book in Los Angeles: www.regenprojects.com
To book in London: www.victoria-miro.com
To view on Vortic's web or mobile app, please click here
In Open, the first project to launch on Vortic VR, Doug Aitken has created what he sees as a new context for his artworks, both realised and speculative. Across four separate viewing rooms, viewers will encounter Aitken’s artworks installed in imaginary architectural environments that are themselves set within a hyperreal world that is at once familiar and fantastical.
Hosted within the Oculus virtual reality system, Open can be adapted to a wide range of applications, from remote viewing experiences to the contemplation of as-yet unrealised projects. In this current iteration, select works made by Aitken since 2019 are joined by realistic digital renderings of sculptures that build on his recent projects.
In previous interactive sculptures, Aitken has aimed to ‘break the screen’. His mirrored, reactive sculptures are always evolving – whether biologically, in the case of Underwater Pavilions, 2016, which became crusted with aquatic life, or socially, as in Green Lens, 2021, which was activated by a series of happenings. Crucially, as Aitken says, all these sculptures are ‘unplugged.’
For Open, Aitken has found ways to apply similar principles to the dematerialised, digital medium of virtual reality. The first space viewers enter is a circular courtyard circumscribed by high, raw concrete walls, open to the sky above. At its centre, Metallic Sleep, 2022, a column of intersecting polished steel discs, rotates slowly on a granite boulder, reflecting the space around it. Through a small circular window in the wall, viewers can peer out into a vast, ethereal skyscape, through which floats a silver hot air balloon – a reference to Aitken’s project New Horizon, 2019, in which a custom-made, semi-reflective balloon and gondola flew over rural Massachusetts. Throughout Open, natural lighting conditions shift subtly, moving from a deep blue afternoon sky to a ‘golden hour’ sunset – a transitional time of day often referenced in Aitken’s work.
The three sound sculptures from Aitken’s series Slow Wave, 2022, build on his recent project Sonic Mountain (Sonoma), 2019, a site-specific piece on the Donum Estate in Northern California. While Sonic Mountain (Sonoma) is ‘performed by the landscape,’ as Aitken puts it, these new sculptures turn, allowing their active musicality to interact with the air currents of their surroundings. The polished surfaces of Metallic Sleep and Slow Wave are entirely responsive to their environment, which they pristinely replicate through VR algorithms. The only thing not reflected in these virtual sculptures, of course, is the viewer’s own body.
The third space in Open is hung with a selection of Aitken’s lightboxes and word sculptures, which he has described as ‘electric haikus.’ Throughout Open, the only light source is the sky, which in this gallery is visible through apertures in the ceiling. As dusk falls outside, the lightboxes glow richly, their colors reflecting on the space’s polished concrete floor.
A video offers a glimpse into Aitken’s studio and production methods before viewers enter the final gallery space, which is hung with wall-based fabric works. These emanate from a body of work begun in the socially turbulent context of the first months of Covid lockdown. Parts of these tactile, handmade pieces were cut from the artist’s own clothes. In Open, Aitken presents two new pieces depicting the phases of the moon, and a large-scale piece, Slowing down Perseverance (Dare mighty things), 2022, based on the coded pattern of the parachute that landed the spacecraft Perseverance onto the surface of Mars. As with so much of Open, Aitken has observed that this work ‘speaks about the idea of moving forward into the future,’ in a manner that retains a connection to our senses of touch and physicality, and remaining rooted in time and place.
About the artist
Born in 1968, Doug Aitken currently lives and works in Los Angeles. Major exhibitions in 2022 include a solo exhibition at Museum of Contemporary Art Australia, Sydney. Previous major solo presentations of the artist’s work have been staged at institutional venues including Faurschou Foundation, Beijing (2019); Copenhagen Contemporary (2018); Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth (2017); The Geffen Contemporary at MOCA, Los Angeles (2016); Schirn Kunsthalle, Frankfurt (2015); Nam June Paik Art Center, South Korea (2013); Seattle Art Museum (2013); Tate Liverpool (2012); LUMA Foundation, Arles, France (2012); Deste Foundation, Hydra, Greece (2011); Museo d’Art Contemporanea Roma, Rome (2009); Museum of Modern Art, New York (2007); Aspen Art Museum (2006); Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris (2005); The Fabric Museum and Workshop, Philadelphia (2002) and Serpentine Gallery, London (2001).
The artist was awarded the prestigious Golden Lion at the Venice Biennale in 1999; he has been the recipient of the 2012 Nam June Paik Art Center Prize, the 2013 Smithsonian Magazine American Ingenuity Award: Visual Arts, and the 2016 Americans for the Arts National Arts Award: Outstanding Contributions to the Arts. Aitken is the inaugural recipient of the Frontier Art Prize, a new contemporary art award that supports an artist of international stature pursuing bold projects that challenge the boundaries of knowledge and experience.
The leading virtual and augmented reality platform for the art world, Vortic’s mission is to support galleries and institutions with the highest quality digital experiences for their collectors and audiences by harnessing cutting-edge 3D, AR, and VR technology to create a unique experience of viewing art. Visitors to the VR spaces will be able to view exhibitions and interact with other VR visitors from anywhere in the world. Galleries and institutions are able to stage exhibitions in a precise replica of their gallery space, custom spaces, or in a choice of Vortic gallery spaces, viewing rooms, and art fair booths, published simultaneously across web, mobile, and in virtual reality (viewable on Oculus headsets). Live and pre-recorded ‘Vortic Sessions’ can be hosted within the virtual exhibition spaces, ranging from one- to-one private tours, to live artist or curator talks, offering collectors the chance to gain further insight into artworks and exhibitions on the platform. Collectors can also use the Vortic Collect mobile app AR function to view how artworks would look in situ and to scale in their homes, and enquire using a live chat function.
Vortic is available to view online at www.vortic.art, or to download for mobile and tablet devices from the App Store now.