The gallery walls came tumbling down in the 60’s and 70’s when a generation of land artists stepped outdoors and used nature as their canvas. For Robert Smithson, the doyen of the Earthworks movement, whose “Spiral Jetty” still protrudes from the shore of the Great Salt Lake, art was meant to engage with the outside world in a way that it couldn’t when cooped up inside. “A work of art when placed in a gallery loses its charge,” he stated in that earlier era.
It’s a shame Smithson couldn’t be there for Doug Aitken’s projection of movie images on the façade of New York’s MoMA for 2007’s “Sleepwalkers.” It was a case of art finding its way outside the museum’s walls but with the added twist of actually becoming the museum’s walls. Delineations between inside and out, real world and representation, never felt so fluid.
As a multimedia innovator, Aitken has built a reputation for reimagining time and space. Few artists come better equipped to capture the kaleidoscopic fever dream we know as life in the present day. With his latest installation, “Altered Earth,” he sets about creating what’s being billed as land art for the electronic age, and in 21st Century fashion, the results are disorienting and overwhelming.