Doug Aitken: new ocean  

Blue is cool. Jazz clubs, Evian water, and most places in the Omotesando area can't be wrong. The color blue also seeps through the screens of artist Doug Aitken's video installation, "new ocean."

This sleek and very cool installation flows across four rooms of the spacious Opera City Gallery. Born from the MTV music clip and advertising scene, it is not surprising that his work is technically crisp and visually stimulating. Aitken's camera peers into holes in glaciers and probes drips of water in hidden caves to produce stunning lyrical images.

The installation is beautifully crafted. Screens made in cross-sections and circles are suspended from the ceiling. Other images bounce off walls and immerse the viewer in the work.

Symmetry is an important element in Aitken's work. Many images are mirror-reflected onto the intersecting screens. At other times, the opposing images work rhythmically off each other, duplicating movements and engaging in pulsating rhythms.

A soundtrack of sudden drips, ambient wateriness and the occasional guitar music waft through the spaces. The music surrounds the viewer and provides a link between each of the sections of the work.

The piece unfolds in sections -- like operatic acts -- room by room. At times Aitken creates tense moments more akin to a suspense drama with dark streets and improbable meetings. In other sections, the piece soars in acrobatic feats of agility and movement.

In the grand finale, an ocean of video surrounds the viewer who is washed over by images on the ceiling and at sea in the watery views all around the walls.

However, for all of its clever angles, "new ocean" left me cold. The cool designer touch seems to have PhotoShop-ped out the soul of this work, leaving only a new-age techno hippie-ism and watery thin ideas.

Tokyo Opera City Art Gallery