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Doug Aitken to install 'Underwater Pavilions' this fall

Doug Aitken to install 'Underwater Pavilions' this fall
A rendering of one of Doug Aitken's underwater pavilions presented by Parley for the Oceans and the Museum of Contemporary Art. (Conner MacPhee)

Doug Aitken is just days away from the opening of his survey exhibition, "Doug Aitken: Electric Earth," at MOCA's Geffen Contemporary in downtown L.A., but the multimedia artist has announced yet another project, one that will submerge his work in the ocean.

In October, Aitken will premiere "Doug Aitken: Underwater Pavilions," a large-scale installation consisting of three underwater sculptures that will float off the coast of Santa Catalina Island, suspended about 5, 10 and 50 feet below the surface. The geometric, reflective pieces are interactive in the sense that water-savvy art goers will be able to swim inside and through them.

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The installation, presented in partnership with the Museum of Contemporary Art, is being produced by Parley for the Oceans, a New York-based ocean conservation advocacy group. The sculptures are made of environmentally friendly materials, the museum said. The pieces include mirrored surfaces in certain places, so that as snorkelers and scuba divers whirl, twirl and glide through them, the artworks will reflect their underwater surroundings.

"Over 70% of the surface of the Earth is ocean, and the seascape offers unique opportunities to create works that constantly shift, change, evolve with the tide and the sun," Aitken said via email. "The opportunity to work with Parley for the Oceans and realize this project during the time of the MOCA survey could not have been better. A project like this asks us to reconsider our perception of something that may on the surface seem mundane but when you dive deeper the complexity is apparent."

"Underwater Pavilions" is in line with many of Aitken's outdoor, site-specific works. In 2009, the artist drilled a nearly 700-foot-deep hole in the ground in Brumadinho, Brazil, for his "Sonic Pavilion," in which underground microphones recorded the tectonic plates of the Earth shifting.

The exhibit is "aesthetic and scientific," MOCA said in a statement. "'Underwater Pavilions' puts the local marine environment and the global challenges around ocean conservation in dialogue with the history of art, inviting the viewer to write a contemporary narrative of the ocean and to participate in its protection."

The temporary installation will be free into the winter; an end date hasn't been set yet. The public can access it in Casino Point Dive Park in the city of Avalon.

deborah.vankin@latimes.com

Follow me on Twitter: @DebVankin

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