Reflective Drifting

Uncharted terrains may be easier to discover than we think. New Horizon is a travelling installation and event series curated by American multimedia artist and filmmaker Doug Aitken and The Trustees, the oldest land conservation not-for-profit organisation in the world. It takes to the air across Massachusetts from 12 to 28 July in the form of a 100-ft tall, mirrored hot air balloon. It provides, quite literally, a vessel for reflection.

“New Horizon started with a question. How I could make an installation or artwork that could travel weightlessly throughout the landscape?” tells Aitken, of how this idea was first born. “I was fascinated by the idea of an artwork not being situated within a building or in a single location, and instead an artwork that would be nomadic. With each new location its personality and presence will continuously change as will the perceptions of each viewer.”

The balloon glides across thermal air and rides the wind. By day, it interacts with natural hues and adapts to its surroundings, almost like a projector screen for orange-tinged sunsets and red skies. At night, thousands of tiny lights dotted across its surface glow and pulsate, creating a spectacle in pitch blackness.

Doug Aitken, New Horizon, 2019, courtesy The Trustees (6)

I was fascinated by the idea that you could stage a happening with music and conversation on sand dunes on an island in the Atlantic, and the next day be transported to a lush green forest,” the artist explains. “New Horizon is also unique in that we are creating a very unorthodox and large-scale artwork outside of the gallery or museum system.”

Working alongside The Trustees, the touring exhibition visits several sites across the state of Massachusetts, North East America. Premiering at Martha’s Vineyard, the orb then travels to Holmes Reservation in Plymouth. After touching down in Cordova Sculpture Park and Museum, Lincoln and Castle Hill on the Crane Estate, Ipswich, New Horizons will sail across the state before making its final stop at Field Farm, Williamstown, on the morning of Sunday 28 July.

“I would love New Horizon to be a project that expresses contemporary ideas in an open and de-material way. I see it as a series of conversations through all mediums – art, sound and dialogue as they move through continuously changing landscapes. This is a road trip that moves from the earth to the sky and back. It is a story that will change continuously, and perhaps in the process some new ideas can be provoked and fresh experiences can be shared. I think we are restless with much of how we are spoon-fed culture and perhaps New Horizon can be a small alternative to that.”

New Horizons tours across the state of Massachusetts until 23 July. Find out more here.

Image courtesy of: Doug Aitken, New Horizon, 2019, courtesy The Trustees (7)