Art, Events, Greenspace November 21, 2012 By Jordan Sayle

Doug Aitken, Altered Earth,  2012. © Commissioned and produced by the LUMA foundation.

Doug Aitken, Altered Earth, 2012. © Commissioned and produced by the LUMA foundation.

The result is a wholly immersive experience that brings the outdoors in. And if the dislocated sensation that visitors encounter feels a bit like an origami-style folding of the mind, there’s reason for that.

“The idea for the structure of this piece was so immediate,” Aitken says. “Five years ago, I had a napkin or a piece of paper and saw it as a landscape. I started folding it and folding it. I was interested in turning each of the folds into a different chapter within the representation of this landscape and the tension it holds.”

That ability to alter perspectives at will very likely has a specific source for Aitken, who once fell into a coma for four days as a result of a swimming accident. It’s hard not to draw connections from that harrowing experience to the weightless quality of “Altered Earth,” seeming as it does to exist outside of time.

The lesson of that accident, according to Aitken is the significance of every moment. “There are moments that seem like they’re going to be larger chapter headings,” he says. “And in the end I think everything balances out. There’s a kind of electricity in everything around you.”

Adding layers of abstraction to subvert our physical orientation with this exhibition may well be his attempt to impart that hard-won wisdom. We have no choice but to see the world anew. It’s a place transformed by the mines dug in the Salin-de-Giraud and recast in the spectral glow of the Phare de Beauduc, the otherworldly lighthouse that makes an appearance. But mostly, it’s a place modified by our own visions of it.

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