SA MI 75 DZ NY 12: Doug Wheeler
Earlier this year, Wheeler transformed a gallery on 19th Street in Manhattan into an “infinity room”— a space seemingly devoid of walls or ceiling or floor. With all corners obscured by seamless nylon scrim and the light carefully modulated, this controlled experience remains a total mystery until the second you step off the edge. (This is done wearing antiseptic booties—your filthy, mark-making shoes can sit in a heap by the exit.)
We eager onlookers were corralled onto a shiny lacquered platform, which would be our last identifiable marker of space. Beyond the black line of the lacquer’s hard edge, we stared ahead at what appeared to be a blank wall and began walking forward until we thrust a foot forward and actually stepped through it. Like “going through the looking glass,” crossing that precipice marked a radical shift in my understanding of the space. However, this first whiz-bang realization of optical illusion did not diffuse the work’s pleasures all at once. While floating in disorienting pristine white, each tentative step forward felt like an uncertain tilt off of the diving board.
It was [probably] the most profound interaction I’ve ever had with a designed space—there was nothing there and it was absolutely thrilling. And even… cinematic. No chlorine, no generation-defining film director required—just lots of light with no hard surface to fall upon.
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