For PSAD Synthetic Desert III (1971),has altered the structure and configuration of a museum gallery in order to control optical and acoustic experience. He has transformed the room into a hermetic realm, a “semi-anechoic chamber” designed to minimize noise and induce a sensate impression of infinite space. Wheeler likens this sensation of light and sound to the perception of vast space in the deserts of northern Arizona. While Synthetic Desert is deeply grounded in the artist’s experience of the natural world, the work does not describe the landscape. Its form is strictly abstract.
Wheeler abandoned object making altogether in the late 1960s to create immersive environments such as Synthetic Desert, using architectural volume, light, and sound as his primary mediums. The Guggenheim’s production of Synthetic Desert, based on early drawings and completed in close collaboration with the artist, is the first realization of this work.
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