Want to See Installation Artist Doug Aitken’s Latest Work? Grab Your Scuba Gear

Doug Aitken - Underwater Pavilions

This story originally appeared on Travel + Leisure.

Great art is able to transport viewers to another world, but one new artistic installation off the coast of California is making viewers go to another world before they even view the work.

On December 4, artist Doug Aitken opened his installation of 12-foot diameter “underwater pavilions” on the ocean floor of Catalina Island, 22 miles away from Los Angeles. But in order to view the geometric sculptures, visitors will have to suit up and dive into the waters.

The three underwater sculptures are interactive, allowing divers and fish to swim through. They are made from mirrors and artificial rock. While exploring the pieces, divers are meant to see themselves and the reflection of the underwater world around them, drawing attention to the declining health of the oceans.

“When we talk about the oceans and we look at the radical disruption we’ve created within the sea, we’re not quite aware yet how much that’s going to affect us and our lives on land,” Aitken said in a statement. “The ramifications of that are immense. This is one thing which cannot be exaggerated.”

The installation is presented in partnership with Los Angeles’s Museum of Contemporary Art and Parley for the Oceans, an ocean conservation advocacy group. According to the artist, the sculptures are made entirely from environmentally-friendly materials. Since installation, the pieces have grown a layer of algae, allowing them to blend in with their environment.

An end-date for the installation has not yet been set, but viewing is free for anyone willing to take the plunge.

(Smithsonian Editors' Note: Doug Aitken's previous work includes projecting video onto the outside of Smithsonian’s Hirshhorn Museum in 2012.)

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