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
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
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.