The Garden is a living artwork that embraces the dichotomy between the natural environment and a synthetic man-made experience. Aitken’s The Garden installation brings the viewer into the center of the artwork and asks them to physically immerse, participate and become the subject of the installation.
Set inside a dark warehouse space the viewer walks inside, their eyes adjusting to become aware of thick lush jungle growing under artificial grow lights. Walking closer, the viewer enters inside the jungle and discovers a huge rectangular glass cube. Inside the glass room is a man-made environment replete with generic elements of modern life: tables and chairs, a cabinet, a sterile tableau set under bright raking lights.
In The Garden, the visitor both experiences the artwork from the outside while simultaneously becoming the subject once inside the chamber. One at a time a viewer can enter this perfect sterile room and has the freedom to destroy absolutely everything inside the space.
The Garden is a synthetic vision of the environment in direct conflict with the external view of the humid, thick natural greenery. The catalyst that activates the artwork is raw and brutal human expression and its release is at the core of this installation. The Garden was first exhibited at the Aros Triennial - The Garden (section The Future) in Aarhus, Denmark and was on view from June 3 to July 30, 2017. Over the eight-week duration of this installation, viewers occupied the space and had the opportunity to obliterate every object in the interior. Each expression was unique and personal to each viewer.
The Garden created a new form of artwork where the installation functions as a stage that is physical and real, while it is simultaneously filtered through a lens and streamed live from four separate cameras. The artwork was accessible digitally from any part of the world. The viewer became the viewed, blurring the lines between reality and a film set. By turning the lens on the viewer the artwork extends far past its physical boundaries.