We caught up with Aitken to chat about his work and new award, just as he opened a new show at London’s Victoria Miro. The subject: how relationships change in an age dominated by technology.
How do you feel about getting a “lifetime achievement award”–at the age of 51–from ArtCenter, your alma mater?
Really surprised! It came out of left field! Of course I’m grateful and all those things. For me school was a place of radical experimentation. I wasn’t interested in single focus or major. ArtCenter’s kind of a trade school in its way, with all of these different subjects. Car design! Animation! Architecture! I learned how to navigate the system in a non-linear way
Would you say that’s why your work is so multi-disciplinary and non-linear in itself?
It definitely widened the palate of the way I could work. The segregation between the arts seems fairly unnatural. “Electronic music” is separated from “classical,” but everything’s always crossing over continuously. Someone at 18 now is likely using an iPhone or a computer to make art. But when we adults look at tech, we prefer to see it as a totally separate practice. These divisions will erode over time. At the time I spent at ArtCenter, I was a bit rogue, I think. I think I was using the school as opposed to letting the school use you.
Image: portrait of Doug Aitken, 2019
Photograph: Carmen Ellis