In his installation The Blue Period, artist Jon Kessler creates a space so heavily mediated, under surveillance by almost countless video cameras and televisions arranged, that the act of watching becomes intricately ensnared with the act of participation. Now, for the first time, the well-known installation artist has brought the piece to Salon 94 Bowery for a one month viewing. Obfuscating the line between real and imagined, The Blue Period alters the nature of the gallery experience. Huge walls soaked with blue paint pair up with the images of various rooms, rarely in conjunction with a perceived camera position, beamed in by closed-caption television, and placed alongside manipulated film footage and other imagery. Frequently in motion, the cameras underline the act of viewing in the piece, while also forcing the gallery-goer to evaluate their position in the overall installation.
Countering the informal array is a number of pensive, clearly spectatorial cut-out characters, often in the act of appraising some work of art in front of them, echoing the inquiring glance of gallery goers, but scaled down to only two dimensions. In the center of the room is a “mini-gallery “of sorts, a microcosm for the room above the main gallery space, as well as for the spectacle of the piece. This diorama again reiterates the nature of watching paired against the reality of existing in this particular space, continually serving as a balance between the two states Kessler seems so fascinated with. Walking a fine line between formal experiment, and closely observed anarchy, Kessler’s installation creates dualities of viewing that draws comparisons to the observations of Guy Debord, reminding us that especially now, society is still a spectacle.