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Length: c. 60 minutes

About this Piece

Lightscape is an innovative multimedia artwork created by the artist Doug Aitken in collaboration with the Los Angeles Philharmonic and the Los Angeles Master Chorale. At the core of the work is a feature-length film, a multi-screen fine art installation, and a series of live musical performances. Lightscape creates a modern mythology asking the questions, “where are we now?” and “where are we going?”

Lightscape is a captivating, hallucinatory portrait of the contemporary world, addressing a future hovering on the horizon. Accelerating through the diverse landscapes of the American West Coast like a sinuous, lucid dream the narrative seamlessly flows from character to character almost entirely without language or conventional dramatic structure. Instead, we move through an unpredictable series of interconnected encounters always driven by sound and music. The characters of Lightscape are in constant motion, navigating a wild, beautiful and at times, haunting modern world.

Music is Lightscape’s key driver. The film's soundtrack weaves together original compositions created by Doug Aitken with the Los Angeles Master Chorale and orchestral pieces recorded by the Los Angeles Philharmonic under the baton of Gustavo Dudamel. The vocal music uses reductive language, words and phrases that repeat and overlap into abstraction. Like a musical kaleidoscope, the film sonically shifts gears between these original vocal pieces to works by iconic minimalists such as Philip Glass, Steve Reich, and Meredith Monk. The core soundtrack is augmented with ambient soundscapes composed for the film by Doug Aitken, Beck, and others.

Doug Aitken is an artist whose work explores every medium, from sculpture, film, and installations to architectural interventions. His films often explore the modern condition, and his installations create immersive cinematic experiences. He has collaborated with numerous artists and musicians, and his artwork has been exhibited in hundreds of museums and galleries around the world. The Sleepwalkers exhibition at MoMA in 2007 covered the museum’s exterior walls with moving-image projections. In 2012 SONG 1 wrapped the Hirshhorn Museum in Washington, DC with 360-degree panoramic video projections. Mirage, a site-specific sculpture that takes the form of a home completely covered in mirrors and set in the heart of the Californian desert was installed in 2017. It has also been installed in Detroit, MI (2018) and in Gstaad, Switzerland (2019-2021). In July 2019, he launched the project New Horizon, a multifaceted art event challenging the notion of art in the 21st century. The project was composed of a series of live events across the state of Massachusetts, centered around a stunning reflective hot air balloon and gondola. In 2022, a large-scale survey of his artwork was featured in a solo exhibition at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Sydney.

A Portrait of the West

Lightscape portrays the landscape of the American West in all of its diversity. From the desolate reaches of Death Valley to futuristic automated robotics factories to Richard Neutra’s tranquil mid-century architecture, Lightscape restlessly navigates these different ecologies and vivid landscapes.

The cast of Lightscape encompasses a wide cross-section of culture. It features diverse talent including members of LA Dance Project, Krumpers from LA’s street-dance subculture, and actors like Natasha Lyonne. Musicians such as Beck, the folk-soul trio La Lom, and 84-year-old funk legend James Gadson make cameos. In the fragmented narrative of Lightscape, there is a sense of connectivity where one character’s perspective seamlessly merges with the next, creating a prismatic view of the modern experience. Lightscape challenges us to reconsider our perceptions of progress as we hurtle into an unknown technological future.