Underwater Pavilions is artist Doug Aitken’s large-scale installation opening to the public December 4, 2016, on Catalina Island off the coast of Southern California, 22 miles from Los Angeles. Produced by Parley for the Oceans and presented in partnership with The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles (MOCA), the work consists of three temporary underwater sculptures, floating beneath the ocean’s surface that swimmers, snorkelers, and scuba divers can swim through and experience. Geometric in design, the sculptures create underwater spaces synthesizing art and science as they are constructed with carefully researched materials and will be moored to the ocean floor. Part of each sculpture is mirrored to reflect the underwater seascape and create a kaleidoscopic observatory for the viewer, while other surfaces are rough and rock-like. The environments created in and by the sculptures will constantly change with the currents and the time of day, focusing the attention of the viewer on the rhythm of the ocean and its life cycles.
Underwater Pavilions engages the living ocean ecosystem as the viewer swims into and through the sculptures, which create reflective abstractions. The work operates as an observatory for ocean life, creating a variety of converging perceptual encounters. The sculptures will continuously change due to the natural and manmade conditions of the ocean, creating a living presence and unique relationship with the viewer. Both aesthetic and scientific, Underwater Pavilions puts the local marine environment and the global challenges around ocean conversation in dialogue with the history of art, inviting the viewer to write a contemporary narrative of the ocean and to participate in its protection.