Artist Doug Aitken's 'Altered Earth' exhibition in Arles, France

Few artists have done as much as Doug Aitken (opens in new tab) to take contemporary art out of the gallery and into your back yard - quite literally in some cases. The Californian multimedia artist is best known for his video projections onto surfaces as varied as a forest pavilion and a New York City block. 'Almost anything' he says, can be used 'as a projection surface'.

Aitken's latest focus is the Camargue region of southern France, where he's spent months capturing the reedy lagoons, splendid fauna and empty panoramas of a geography that's been settled since Roman times yet scarcely developed since. The snippets of life are being shown for a month this autumn as 'Altered Earth: Arles, city of moving images (opens in new tab)', an exhibition at the Parc des Ateliers in historic Arles.

In the park's hangar-like Grande Halle, Aitken's enormous cinematic screens create what he calls 'an almost holographic view of the physical landscape'. They dangle from the vaulted ceiling like fantastical backdrops in a Hollywood sound studio, drawing the viewer into the landscape.

He calls the effect 'liquid architecture', though it's unclear whether he's referring to the venue, which seems to melt away in the background, or the labyrinthine arrangement of screens, which guide visitors like the current of a winding stream.

The awesome projections give vivid new life to details in the Provençal terrain - an arid, uneven, dramatic topography even seasoned trekkers would struggle to conquer in a week. In the darkness of the Grande Halle, the works are all the more transporting.

This exhibition is a lead-in to the redevelopment of Parc des Ateliers. The Arles-based arts foundation LUMA (opens in new tab) has enlisted architect Frank Gehry to design a series of interdisciplinary centres for the park to help transform it into a destination for contemporary art installation, education and research.

Hangar-like Grande Halle until 2 December

Doug Aitken has commandeered the hangar-like Grande Halle until 2 December
© Doug Aitken Workshop and LUMA Foundation, 2012. 

(Image credit: Hervé Côte)

The Grande Halle is sited in Parc des Ateliers, soon to be redeveloped

The Grande Halle is sited in Parc des Ateliers, soon to be redeveloped by Frank Gehry
© Doug Aitken Workshop and LUMA Foundation, 2012.

(Image credit: Robert Leslie)

To create his multimedia installations, Aitken spent months capturing the reedy lagoons

To create his multimedia installations, Aitken spent months capturing the reedy lagoons, splendid fauna and empty panoramas of the Camargue region of southern France
© Doug Aitken Workshop and LUMA Foundation, 2012.

(Image credit: Robert Leslie)

Aitken calls them 'an almost holographic view of the physical landscape

Aitken calls them 'an almost holographic view of the physical landscape'
© Doug Aitken Workshop and LUMA Foundation, 2012. 

(Image credit: Robert Leslie)

A video still from the Altered Earth installation

A video still from the Altered Earth installation
© Doug Aitken Workshop and LUMA Foundation, 2012

(Image credit: dougaitkenworkshop.com)

A video still from the Altered Earth installation

A video still from the Altered Earth installation
© Doug Aitken Workshop and LUMA Foundation, 2012.

(Image credit: dougaitkenworkshop.com)

The works dangle from the vaulted ceiling like fantastical backdrops in a Hollywood sound studio, drawing the viewer into the landscape

The works dangle from the vaulted ceiling like fantastical backdrops in a Hollywood sound studio, drawing the viewer into the landscape
© Doug Aitken Workshop and LUMA Foundation, 2012.

(Image credit: Robert Leslie)

Small details in the vegetation are recreated on an epic scale

Small details in the vegetation are recreated on an epic scale
© Doug Aitken Workshop and LUMA Foundation, 2012. Photography: Robert Leslie

(Image credit: Robert Leslie)

Aitken refers to the installations as like 'liquid architecture', though it's unclear whether he's referring to the venue

Aitken refers to the installations as like 'liquid architecture', though it's unclear whether he's referring to the venue, which seems to melt away in the background...
© Doug Aitken Workshop and LUMA Foundation, 2012.

(Image credit: Robert Leslie)

Labyrinthine arrangement of screens, which guide visitors like the current of a winding stream

... or the labyrinthine arrangement of screens, which guide visitors like the current of a winding stream
© Doug Aitken Workshop and LUMA Foundation, 2012.

(Image credit: Robert Leslie)

Visitors gather around the mesmerising screens

Visitors gather around the mesmerising screens
© Doug Aitken Workshop and LUMA Foundation, 2012.

(Image credit: Robert Leslie)

Their shadows become part of the works

Their shadows become part of the works
© Doug Aitken Workshop and LUMA Foundation, 2012.

(Image credit: Robert Leslie)

A video still from the Altered Earth installation

A video still from the Altered Earth installation
© Doug Aitken Workshop and LUMA Foundation, 2012

(Image credit: dougaitkenworkshop.com)

A video still from the Altered Earth installation

A video still from the Altered Earth installation
© Doug Aitken Workshop and LUMA Foundation, 2012

(Image credit: dougaitkenworkshop.com)

A video still from the Altered Earth installation

A video still from the Altered Earth installation
© Doug Aitken Workshop and LUMA Foundation, 2012

(Image credit: dougaitkenworkshop.com)

ADDRESS

Grande Halle
Parc des Ateliers
24 Avenue Victor Hugo
Arles
France

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