Seven years after he created an underground 'Sonic Pavilion' in Brazil, American artist Doug Aitken has made three 'Underwater Pavilions' off the coast of California. The three, swim-through geometric sculptures have been moored to the seabed on Catalina Island, 22 miles from Los Angeles. Each sculpture has 12 sides shaped like a pentagon. Part of each sculpture is mirrored to reflect the ocean and the fish, while other sides are sharp-edged and rock-like.
The temporarily-installed pavilions, suspended five, 10 and 50 feet underwater, can be visited by swimming, snorkelling and scuba-diving. The brightly coloured, moving reflections can create a kaleidoscopic viewing experience, providing visibility is clear enough.
The project has been produced with Parley for the Oceans, an environmental organisation set up by German-born, New York-based designer/creative entrepreneur Cyrill Gutsch. It coincides with the exhibition, 'Doug Aitken: Electric Earth', at The Geffen Contemporary at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles.
Aitken is best known for his sculptures and large-scale video installations. In a synthesis of art and science, his Underwater Pavilions are intended to draw attention to local marine life and the importance of protecting the ocean. Aitken has spoken about his interest in seeing if new forms of art evolve and in encouraging people to consider the ocean as a three-dimensional world.
Significantly, the materials of the pavilions and the site were researched to ensure that harm would not be caused to the environment. Parley hired a marine biologist and submarine builders to help with construction.
Throughout the weeks, the appearance of the pavilions will gradually change as algae begins to grow upon the sculptures. At some point, the pavilions will be moved, perhaps to somewhere more tropical although this is to be confirmed.
'Underwater Pavilions' follow on from how, in 2009, Aitken drilled a 700-foot-deep hole in the ground in Brumadinho, southeastern Brazil, for his 'Sonic Pavilion', in which underground microphones recorded the tectonic plates of the Earth shifting.
Underwater photos by Shawn Heinrichs. On land photos: courtesy of the artist, Parley for the Oceans and The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles.