Doug Aitken (2008)
Installed: May 14 – September 18, 2016
Yerba Buena: 151 Third Street, SFMOMA

From across the room at San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA), it was easy to read the illuminated words of Doug Aitken’s Start Swimming (2008) mixed-media artwork. Up close, language faded into the background as viewers got lost in the details of the picture that created the wry words. The Los Angeles artist and filmmaker had photographed a parched, sun-baked geography of homes and streets that suggested a neighborhood blueprint, digitally enhanced so that the unifying color calls to mind strips of cool blue water. This neon light-box image offered a perspective of looking down at the Earth's surface, created with a picture of an otherwise unremarkable location – an everyday place that could be anywhere.

Artist: Doug Aitken creates in every medium, from film and photography to architectural interventions; his interest in mixed-media artwork focuses heavily on illuminated typographical elements combined with light and photography. Aitken’s body of work explores the evolving ways people experience memory and narrative and relate to fast-paced urban environments, and includes narrative films, sound, single and multi-channel video, and installations. His work has been exhibited in museums around the world, including The Museum of Modern Art and Whitney Museum of American Art in New York City, and the Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris.