The Palace at 4 A.M. is a new site-specific installation by New York-based artist Jon Kessler. Created for P.S.1, this exhibition expands upon a recent suite of works by the artist entitled Global Village Idiot, which opened in the spring of 2004.
Referencing issues relevant to contemporary society – including politics, war, advertising, propaganda and surveillance – Kessler’s work thrusts the viewer directly into a complex visual experience. Though sources of inspiration and information are varied and include reality television such as The Swan, kabuki, and Apocalypse Now, The Palace at 4 A.M. ultimately speaks to the history of image production and representations of warfare. The exhibition explores our society’s alienation from the real (demonstrated most recently by Over There, a new television drama chronicling the war in Iraq as it continues to rage). The intention is for the viewer to experience the piece as if she is putting her head inside a television that is in the process of being channel surfed. According to Kessler, “My aim is to create a kind of visual journalism of the past four years, where underneath this abundance of stimuli, what takes place is an investigation into how the images that occupy our realities and dreams are constructed and manipulated.”
Based in one large gallery with adjoining exhibition spaces around the periphery, Kessler’s work is comprised of a network of kinetic sculptures, each of which incorporate surveillance cameras acting in tandem with the sculptures’ movements to create video imagery occurring in real time. In the center of the main gallery – or central nerve bank – is what the artist coins a “termite mound” of imagery. Actions and images created live in peripheral areas (as well as in the main space itself) are simultaneously displayed on monitors and screens in the central nerve. This information is constantly assembled and reassembled, resulting in scenes that appear unfamiliar, disorienting and sometimes dangerous.
P.S.1 Contemporary Art Center Web Site