Skip to Content
Today Open today 11–8


A work made of color film, sound, transferred to digital video (monitor or projection); 6:43 min. loop
edition number one of five.

Image actions

  • A work made of color film, sound, transferred to digital video (monitor or projection); 6:43 min. loop
edition number one of five.




Doug Aitken
American, born 1968

About this artwork

Doug Aitken’s acclaimed video installations take aim at what it means to live in an age when human experience is increasingly shaped by the mediating effects of technology and an unprecedented degree of mobility. Many of his videos unfold as journeys through desolate places in which the natural and the artificial begin to blend. Others offer technology-inflected visions of landscapes in a state of flux. Aitken described his body of work as a series of “structures which move outward in different trajectories and yet share a connection.” He went on to say, “If I create a work which is intensely human, then maybe the next work I want to make is as far from that as possible. It is a constantly evolving process of point and counterpoint.” The three works by Aitken in the Art Institute’s collection—monsoon, thaw, and the moment—vary in their formal qualities and subject matter, but they all pursue similar themes. Additionally, they provide a sense of how Aitken has used the spatial configurations of his multichannel installations in increasingly ambitious ways to extend his films’ narratives beyond the edges of the screen.
One of the artist’s most understated and formally restrained works is monsoon, an early single-channel video. In 1995, Aitken traveled to Jonestown, Guyana, where almost twenty years earlier nearly one thousand members of the People’s Temple joined their leader, the Reverend Jim Jones, in a mass suicide. The artist had no other goal than to wait for a looming monsoon to break, and in the video the camera stands in as a patient witness, panning slowly across the ominously still landscape. Vibrantly colored views of the jungle, verging toward abstraction, are juxtaposed with vestiges of human presence, such as a barren road and an abandoned truck. The only sounds are a low drone and the occasional chirping of birds and crickets. The wind starts to blow heavily as night falls, but the rain never arrives. This potential moment of catharsis is deferred, and the viewer is left to contend with a sense of anticipation and absence, searching the landscape for telling traces of its past as the camera carries out its impassive surveillance.


Currently Off View


Contemporary Art


Doug Aitken




United States (Artist's nationality:)

Date  Dates are not always precisely known, but the Art Institute strives to present this information as consistently and legibly as possible. Dates may be represented as a range that spans decades, centuries, dynasties, or periods and may include qualifiers such as c. (circa) or BCE.

Made 1995


Color film, sound, transferred to digital video (monitor or projection); 6:43 min. loop Edition number one of five

Credit Line

Gift of Donna and Howard Stone

Reference Number


Extended information about this artwork

Object information is a work in progress and may be updated as new research findings emerge. To help improve this record, please email . Information about image downloads and licensing is available here.


Sign up for our enewsletter to receive updates.

Learn more

Image actions