Doug Wheeler

If you happen to be in New York, do consider seeing Doug Wheeler’s light and space installation at the David Zwirner Gellery in Chelsea. It might reveal many new and fascinating things about the way you see, experience and perceive reality. And the best part: you will participate in this experiment both as a subject and as an observer…

Doug Wheeler (b. 1939) is a pioneer of the so-called “Light and Space” movement that flourished in Southern California in the 1960s and 1970s. His works appeared in such venues as Tate gallery, London (1970), Salvatore Ala Gallery, Milan (1975), Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles (1983), Guggenheim Museum, Bilbao (2000) and many others.

The installation I saw on the weekend was ambiguously titled SA MI 75 DZ NY 12. It is a large scale exhibit that brings you as close to stepping into the void as a person can get without enduring any imminent danger. You enter the white oblivion and walk toward what you know is the back wall. The shape of the room and the special way it is lit eliminate any depth perception. You feel that your eyes are failing you, all you can see is the infinite whiteness. The experience is thrilling and unsettling at the same time. People’s reactions to the room vary. Some linger on the edge, some freeze in the middle, some reach out, trying to feel the space around them. I kept going forward, and eventually my feet felt the curve. And this was the moment when I saw the room for the first time, its size, its shape, its texture. It was quite a discovery! The light in the room changes gradually from bright to dark in a 32-minute cycle, so you can test your senses within fluctuating light modes.

Doug Wheeler’s SA MI 75 DZ NY 12 installation is on display at David Zwirner through February 25, 2012.