Doug Wheeler’s “Infinity Room” at David Zwirner’s Chelsea Gallery
This is the coolest thing in New York City right now. Doug Wheeler's mind-blowing installation–his first ever solo show in New York City–at the David Zwirner Gallery in Chelsea, named SA MI 75 DZ NY 12 (you can call it the "Infinity Room," or the "Amazing Room," or just "Whoa…." ) plays brilliantly with light and space and color (and the absence thereof) to create an environment which takes away all of your visual reference points until you literally have no clue what's right in front of you, if anything. The walls are rounded, so there's no horizon or edges with which to orient yourself. Everything is painted a super-clean white, and you have to take off your shoes and wear protective booties to keep it that way. But it's mostly the light that creates the magic of Doug Wheeler's Infinity Room, and we can't even begin to speculate exactly how he pulls it off. And the space is constantly changing too! The artist has programmed the lighting to evoke a day-into-night-into-day cycle, moving over the course of 32 minutes from a dark blue (midnight) to an intense white (noon) and back again.
It's all a little hard to describe, and the photographs here* don't even begin to do it justice, but being in the heart of Doug Wheeler's Infinity Room feels like you're in the middle of a cloud; or like you've been struck blind, but still able to see color; or like you're trapped in a blizzard white-out, but without the cold and the wet; or like you're entering the space ship at the end of Close Encounters. It's pretty incredible, standing in the Infinity Room: a little scary, a lot calming, and definitely one of the most visceral art exhibitions we can ever remember. We laughed out loud more than once, as we walked again and again from the "entry room" into the abyss, because no matter how well we prepared ourselves, the surprise of disappearing into the (virtual) mist got us every time.
One thing, though: because this is New York City, and because Doug Wheeler's David Zwirner installation has been getting a fair amount of hype, there are crowds to contend with. Access to the Infinity Room is limited to just a few people at a time (any more than that would ruin the sensation), and you should stay at least 15 minutes or so to get the full effect of the gradual change in the light, so… well, you can do the math. We went at 3:00 on a Tuesday, and the wait was still almost half an hour… and this was before word-of-mouth really had a chance to spread. On a Saturday we can imagine the line will be hours long. But if you can get there early, or have a free afternoon, we highly recommend you go. It's an experience you won't soon forget.
Doug Wheeler's "Infinity Room" at David Zwirner's Chelsea Gallery details
Doug Wheeler's SA MI 75 DZ NY 12 will be at the David Zwirner's Chelsea Gallery from now through February 25. David Zwirner is located on 19th Street between 10th and 11th Avenues, and is open Tuesday through Saturday from 10:00 a.m. until 6:00 p.m. For more information about the gallery, Doug Wheeler, or SA MI 75 DZ NY 12, please see the David Zwirner website, here.
*all by Tim Nighswander/IMAGING4ART, courtesy of David Zwirner, New York © 2012 Doug Wheeler