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Wartime Voyeurism

By Rhizome


New York artist Jon Kessler's recent video installations have focused on contemporary politics, representations of war, and the pleasures and problems of surveillance. His most immersive work to date, 'The Palace at 4 AM,' is a room-sized anthill of flashing monitors, spider webs of cable, and an arsenal of rotating video cameras installed at P.S.1. Contemporary Art Center. The cameras are trained on free-standing images taken from footage of the war and political events. Like Hollywood miniatures, each briefly creates a false reality before the camera jerks away to focus on a different scene. Kessler also perforates the images, allowing flashes of the real gallery to penetrate his virtual war. Through the holes, people watching the monitors catch glimpses of other visitors between the dizzying presentations of politicians and explosions. This produces the giddy paranoia of watching and being watched, but the surveillance doesn't end in Kessler's closed-circuit. Until the show closes on February 6th, two of the cameras are streaming live to the internet. Tune in during P.S.1 gallery hours to watch bewildered visitors explore the installation--while they revel in being watched. - Bill Hanley

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