Doug Wheeler: PSAD Synthetic Desert III, New York. Photography by David Heald Doug Wheeler: PSAD Synthetic Desert III, New York. Photography by David Heald
Doug Wheeler: PSAD Synthetic Desert III, New York Doug Wheeler: PSAD Synthetic Desert III, New York
Doug Wheeler: PSAD Synthetic Desert III, New York Doug Wheeler: PSAD Synthetic Desert III, New York

Sensory deprivation

31 : 03 : 2017 Doug Wheeler : The Focus Filter : Installation

New York – The Guggenheim Museum has finally realised the concept for Doug Wheeler’s 1960s experiment in sensory deprivation.

  • The exhibition has been curated from drawings executed by Wheeler in 1968
  • Focused on sensory deprivation, the installation only admits five visitors at a time

The immersive exhibition, PSAD Synthetic Desert III, was created in close collaboration with Wheeler himself to produce a hermetic environment. The gallery space has been designed to function as a semi-anechoic chamber – an environment designed to suppress almost all ambient sounds – so that visitors are deprived of almost all outside acoustic stimuli, and into this silence the curators will introduce specific sounds.

The environment has also been designed to minimise optical stimuli, with the floor space filled with a multitude of white pyramids. Visitors observe these structures from a viewing platform in the middle of the room, enabling them to become fully absorbed in the space and to experience something like the enormity and isolation of the deserts in northern Arizona that so captivated Wheeler.

The Big Picture

As explored in The Focus Filter, sensory deprivation is a valuable tactic for artists and brands seeking to re-engage with a contemporary audience overwhelmed by stimuli.

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