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Doug Aitken, Born 1968, USA

Sonic Mountain (Sonoma), 2019

As a unique site-specific commission for the Donum Estate, Los Angeles-based artist Doug Aitken has created the ethereal work Sonic Mountain (Sonoma), three concentric circles of suspended stainless-steel pipes whose differing lengths form a wave at their base, mirroring the free Euler-Bernoulli shape that describes the chime’s frequency. Installed in the eucalyptus grove, measuring forty-five feet in diameter and twice human height, and comprising 365 chimes — one for each day of the year — Sonic Mountain (Sonoma) works with one of Donum’s most persistent elements, the Carneros breeze that cools the grapes and creates a temperate zone for growing Pinot Noir. Each day, the warm wind begins its soft whisper, rustling through the vines and trees, building in strength through the day until mid-afternoon, and then gradually diminishing in force. Known to have been used since at least the ancient Roman period in Europe and the second century in India and China, wind chimes create chance, inharmonic music. At Donum, Aitken has teamed up with his friend the composer Terry Riley to compose chords in the chimes to be played by the wind , depending on how it blows, so the lyrical work sounds throughout the estate, demonstrating the artist’s practice of making installations that synthesize many media and are never constrained by tradition.


Doug Aitken is a multimedia artist who lives and works between California and New York. In 1987, he studied magazine illustration at the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena before graduating in fine arts in 1991. Three years later, he moved to New York, where he had his first solo show at 303 Gallery. In 1999, he won the Golden Lion at the Venice Biennale in Italy. Aitken’s body of work ranges from photography, print media, sculpture, and architectural interventions to narrative films, sound, single and multichannel video works, installations, and live performance. Aitken has participated in more than two hundred exhibitions throughout the world. His work has been featured in numerous group shows in such institutions as the Whitney Museum of American Art and the Museum of Modern Art in New York, and the Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris. He has had solo exhibitions at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, Texas; Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, DC; Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris; Serpentine Gallery, London; Kunsthalle Zürich, Switzerland; Kunsthaus Bregenz, Austria; Museum of Modern Art, New York; Deste Foundation, Greece; and Tokyo Opera City Art Gallery, Japan.


Doug Aitken Sonic Mountain performance featuring Hisham Akira Bharoocha's commissioned work 20 Percussionists for sonic mountain.


Interview with Doug Aitken about Sonic Mountain