Doug Aitken at Victoria Miro, Mayfair

It's a busy Summer for Doug Aitken, the American artist (b. California 1968) is curating Station to Station at the Barbican - a 'living exhibition' of over 100 events and collaborations and is having a mid-career retrospective at the Shirn Kunsthalle over in Frankfurt.  

   He is perhaps best known in the UK for his multi-screen video installations but has been working across an array of disciplines since the turn of the century. Victoria Miro hosted his last exhibition here, Black Mirror centred around a multi-channel 13 minute film of the same name with Chloe Sevigny starring across numerous screens as someone experiencing the acceleration of modern life. This is a theme picked up and expanded in The Age of Earthquakes the recent book by writer Shumon Basar, best selling Canadian author Douglas Coupland and Co-Director of London's Serpentine Galleries Hans Ulrich Obrist. They talk about the extreme present and the 'proceleration' of our world - that being the acceleration of the acceleration of our day-to-day lives. 

   Aitken continues to explore this as an on-going concern. NOW (Blue Mirror) is nothing if not a cry of immediacy - like his wall based sculptures first introduced to the UK at the exhibition above, this new show includes the most pristine and accurate gloss mirrored Pop statement addressing the present tense. More than just a glib opportunity for a photo caption of 'contemporary' art, the piece is presented to such a high gleam, according to a gallery invigilator the artist has insisted that should it be scratched or damaged in any way it be returned to his particular assistant in LA. Like the other text piece, the work uses a collegiate font but it offers the three letter word in a single line. END (mirror) is an altogether more complex work and uses a concrete-esque finish as a border to the golden letters. Like the typography from which it takes its form, the D placed beneath the above two letters create a crest-like piece; an almost Superman styled chest emblazoned S.

   Despite Aitken's extensive output the main gallery at Victoria Miro's Mayfair space looks strikingly different to anything you may have seen of the artist's previous work. Eyes closed, wide awake (Sonic Fountain II) stands at the centre of the room and is unarguably attractive; it audibly entices you toward it. Omitting sound from internally amplified random water drops dripping from artificial stalactites into a pool, only to be secretly pumped up to drop again, the sculpture immediately draws your attention from the moment you enter the room. The chiselled limestone-like forms betray nothing; the angels are obtuse enough to hide the internal machinations of the piece leaving the echo of its soundtrack to accompany the rest of the show. The internal caving of this exhibition highpoint is centrally framed, like the text work, in a box of accurate workmanship at odds with the stalagmitical and stalactitical forms, reminiscent of millennial time frames instead of the accurate slicing of the its support and the right now of NOW (Blue Mirror) other concerns.

   In the press release, the gallery suggests the five pieces are a 'constellation' but the final two works are pocked landscapes, seen from above and wall mounted but not celestial, instead a world of pure surface. Giant polystyrene sheets have been attacked in a controlled manor with acid - holes and crevices have eaten into the flat plane and created a three dimensional dappling in a field of acryllic sea and sky blues. The room is dimly lit, the gallery windows covered and even the entrance seals behind you once you enter - Aitken and Victoria Miro have successfully imagined a new world of sorts. It's not a big show but it clearly demonstrates there is still plenty of new ideas Aitken wants to explore. until July 31st