Why even though I hate* field trips, they’re occasionally kinda radPosted: February 4, 2012
If you have around two hours to burn some time in the next three weeks, make your way to the Douglas Wheeler exhibit at the David Zwirner gallery in Chelsea. Preferably with 20-some ragtag Brooklyn kids in tow, just enough to freak out the well-heeled Manhattanites unaccustomed to the proletariat. The gallery is exhibiting Wheeler’s new work, which is (drum roll, please) an empty room.
What’s so rad about an empty room? Ask the kids, who lost their collective shits after keeping it together for over two hours of waiting. The exhibit really feels more like a kickass science project than an art installation. By manipulating the curvature of the room’s walls and floor and ceiling and using neon and fluorescent lights, Wheeler creates what he describes as an “infinity environment.” Basically, the room has no edges, hardly any noticeable shadows, and you lose any sense of depth and where the walls and ceiling are. When you first enter the room, you feel like you’re walking through a screen into a fog. Once you’re inside, other people in the room seem to be images on a giant sheet of paper. After about the fifth time I yelled at my students not to touch the walls, I realized that they were nowhere near the walls.
The exhibit is only up until February 25. As word has gotten out about the exhibit, the wait time has grown to around two hours. As most of the Brooklyn kids would attest though, it’s worth the wait.
* Hate is a bit of hyperbole. “Finds extremely stressful” may be a tad more accurate.