3.30.17 / New York / New York

You Can Now Experience The Transformative Power Of Silence


It might be strange to bring up the value of silence when just days ago we were down in Miami for a week of nonstop thumping DJ sets. But here at A Hotel Life, we’ve always sought balance – mezcal fueled parties followed by deep meditation; a little chaos, a little serenity. So it makes sense that after one of the noisiest weeks in Miami, we search for a respite…in one of the noisiest cities in the world. But New York serves as the perfect backdrop, the best possible canvas for Doug Wheeler’s latest work, PSAD: Synthetic Desert III.

Open now at the Guggenheim, with Synthetic Desert Wheeler has created a soundless chamber meant to create the sensory experience of infinite space, which Wheeler likens to his experience of Arizona deserts. Though originally intended as a purely meditative experience for one person at a time, the timed and ticketed exhibit accommodates a maximum of 5 people at a time, and is completely sold out for April. It’s easy to see why; the idea of a personal, sensory experience has always had major appeal (Yayoi Kusama’s Infinity Room comes to mind), but this time the viewer is encouraged to consider silence in a highly disruptive world. And this exhibit isn’t intended to be social – naturally phones aren’t allowed at the exhibit, though some viewers have already pointlessly broken that rule – which holds even greater appeal, when every single interaction, experience, or news byte is constantly demanding our attention. It’s a simple concept, but the kind that might serve as a revelatory experience for anyone receptive to it. As Wheeler told the New York Times, “In a supersilent anechoic chamber, the most that most people can endure is about 40 minutes before they start going batty. I don’t want that experience. I just want you to experience something that you’ve never experienced before, and I think it will be elating. I think you will experience a sense of expanse and distance.”

PSAD: Synthetic Desert III is on view at The Guggenheim Museum until August 2nd