Doug Aitken, Underwater Pavilions (2016), a previous iteration of Ocean Lens installed off the California coast. Source: Parley

Doug Aitken is embarking on a transformative project, consisting of three captivating underwater sculptures. These monumental creations will find their home anchored to the seabed off the picturesque shores of St. Barts. The project, backed by Parley for the Oceans, a prominent environmental organization dedicated to advocating for ocean well-being, is aptly named Ocean Lens.

The motivation behind this ambitious initiative is an urgent call to our collective conscience regarding the deteriorating condition of our oceans. Cyrill Gutsch, the co-founder of Parley for the Oceans, underlines the pivotal role played by our oceans in mitigating climate change. However, the alarming fact remains that our relentless actions have led us perilously close to irreversible environmental tipping points.

Aitken’s submerged masterpieces will not only serve as an aesthetic spectacle but also as a poignant representation of humanity’s ongoing relationship with the oceans. Suspended beneath the ocean’s surface for an extended period, these pavilion-like structures will metamorphose into a dynamic display of geometric abstractions. Their reflective properties will interact with the aquatic environment, creating a mesmerizing and ever-changing kaleidoscope.

The accessibility of Aitken’s artwork is among its most alluring features. Swimmers and divers can explore and traverse the hollow sculptures, making for an immersive experience. Allowing people to engage with the aquatic world in a personal way, they essentially serve as a bridge between art and nature.

Doug Aitken, Underwater Pavilions (2016). Courtesy of Shawn Heinrichs and Parley for the Oceans

The sculptures’ exteriors are formed of rock-like materials that were carefully selected after consultation with experts in marine biology. Along with their aesthetic appeal, these materials were chosen for their ability to foster marine growth. As the ocean’s conditions shift and evolve, so will the marine life that flocks to these structures, showcasing a symbiotic relationship between art and nature.

The project has as many facets as the sculptures themselves, according to Doug Aitken’s vision. In addition to being mysterious and thought-provoking, he hopes that these aquatic wonders will spark discussions about the living world that surrounds us and highlight the incredible resilience and fragility of our earth.

Featured Image: Doug Aitken Underwater Pavilions (2016), a previous iteration of Ocean Lens installed off the California coast. Source: Parley


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