The artist Doug Aitken has launched his first exhibition held entirely in virtual reality (VR) simultaneously at four galleries: Regen Projects in Los Angeles, 303 Gallery in New York, Galerie Eva Presenhuber in Zürich and Victoria Miro in London. Open is available on Vortic VR and features digital works based on existing physical projects by Aitken, as well as new pieces made for the platform.
As the pandemic brought much of the art world to a halt, Aitken started to think of ways to extend the idea of an exhibition and how to show his work. “Do you rebuild a gallery? No, that would be so conservative. Why don’t you build a stage that synchronises in harmony, where it’s challenging for artworks?”
“I’m thinking, what if half the works in this exist in a real physical space and half of them don’t?” he adds. “You almost blur these boundaries between fiction and non-fiction.” The exhibition on Vortic includes works ranging from a rotating sculpture made of mirrored discs, to recreations of fabric-based wall works that Aitken has sewn from his own clothes.
“Some of these pieces are in the studio, and they do exist and they’re sitting there and I see them every morning,” Aitken says. “Other works in here are ideas, but they’ve been taken to this extreme.” One example can be spotted through a small hole cut into one of the VR pavilion walls: a balloon based on Aitken’s New Horizon project, in which he floated across Massachusetts in 2019. “It’s a real piece, but it’s inserted into this built environment, which could never happen at a museum.”