American EntropyDoug Aitken’s blow debrisby Amelia Douglas
This article seeks to revive the links between practice and placement in the work of Californian video artist Doug Aitken, with particular reference to his 2001 video installation Blow Debris. Despite the artist’s self confessed (and possibly strategic) disinterest in “illustrating or making a statement about a specific place”, I argue that Blow Debris emerges from specifically American archetypes of land, movement and national identity. This contention is a departure from the predominant analyses of Doug Aitken’s work. Existing literature focuses on his supposed exploration of a global landscape, a realm of accelerated technological flows and perpetual motion. By pinpointing Aitken’s reconstruction of place rather than globalised space, Blow Debris may be situated within a longstanding tradition of American landscape art in which entropy acts as the primary determinant for national consciousness.
Amelia Douglas is a curator and doctoral candidate in Art History at the University of Melbourne, Australia. Her dissertation is a study of the contemporary French artist Pierre Hughye. She is also an editor of e-maj.