Doug Aitken: Diamond Sea
Diamond Sea is a thought-provoking and stunning work created by Mr. Aitken in 1997. After a year of sorting through bureaucratic red tape, Mr. Aitken succeeded in gaining access to film in a guarded region in the Namib desert in southwestern Africa known as Diamond Area 1 and 2. The territory, estimated over 40,000 square miles, has been sealed off since 1908. Within its borders exists the world’s largest and richest computer-controlled diamond mine.
Mr. Aitken’s work reveals an environment comprised of maximum security devices, patrolling helicopters, flashing computer graphics, undulating sand dunes, abandoned sun-bleached mansions, areas of land gutted and stripped bare, and a band of wild, black horses moving freely through this mysterious landscape. Incorporating the ambient sounds taped by Mr. Aitken during the video’s production, musical groups such as Aphex Twins, Gastr Del Sol, Nine Inch Nails and uzig have contributed meditative musical compositions to the soundtrack.
Diamond Sea includes two video projections, one suspended video monitor, and one full-color, illuminated duratrans image in a dimly lit space. Four speakers create a surround sound experience. Each projection shows the video at different sequence, while the monitor presents a fourth in a smaller format. In the installation Diamond Sea Mr. Aitken brings viewers into the center of a forbidden zone.