There are lots of interesting places to take in a little art in Southern California but artist, Doug Aitken takes it to a new level. He's created an installation beneath the waves titled Underwater Pavilions. It's currently open to art-loving divers, just off the coast of Catalina Island, near Avalon.
The underwater sculptures are designed to interact with the local ecology. They're a result of collaboration between the artist and Parley for the Oceans, an organization that raises awareness for ocean conservation.
KPCC’s A Martinez spoke with the Doug Aitken about the interdisciplinary endeavor.
Inspiration for Underwater Pavilions:
When we think of where can art exist and where can it exist outside of the traditional spaces, we look at times to the tradition of land-art. Works by people like Robert Smithson or Michael Heizer. But we don't really look beyond the earth itself. I think in a lot of ways, living on the West Coast, you find yourself constantly looking out at the ocean. And here we have this vast expansive space. Over 70 percent of the earth is under water. To us, our view is often very limited. We see a horizon line. We see a field of monochrome color. And I was really inspired to find a way to crate something that allowed the viewer to step underneath the surface of the ocean and see this kind of inverted planet that is there.
Art interacting with marine life:
The three different pavilions are at different elevations so the closest one is approximately 10 feet from the surface of the water. That receives much more light and reflectivity. The deeper you go, the darker they become... Half of the material that the sculptures are made of is a kind of aggregate material. It's almost like a lava rock. Over time, this starts becoming colonized. You have something that almost appears like algae that then grows and grows. As that continues to grow, different forms of sea life begin to cling to it and live on and around it.
The viewer's experience:
The value of art for me is to kind of transform or to lodge one into the present. To be kind of, in that moment, at that time. And to be conscious of everything around yourself. And I think if this project can put someone into a situation that is foreign and unique and there's something about it that wakes you up for a moment, then I would be more than grateful.
Quotes edited for clarity.