The Blue Period
The Blue Period (2007/2011) is an immersive installation featuring kinetic machines, surveillance cameras, video monitors and life-size photographic figures. The installation comments on rampant mass media saturation, State sanctioned control societies and social connectivity (Facebook, Twitter, etc…) by creating an immersive kinetic and video drenched panoptical prison, furthering Kessler’s long standing interest in surveillance, alienation and spectacle. TheBlue Period displaces the viewer, liberating them and leaving them adrift in a world of constant feedback and infinite regress.
The Blue Period is a spiritual descendant of Society as Spectacle, Guy Debord’s seminal 1967 critique of the ascendant consumer culture, and the general passivity and isolation it engenders. Riffing on Debord and his fellow Situationists. Kessler has constructed a controlled environment in which social relations are mediated through images of a fabricated, inaccessible reality. Cameras capture real and fake spectators in a maze of monitors against blue splattered walls creating a fleeting sense of community and interconnection. Processors displace this blue with wave after wave of smiling catalog faces, placing the viewer adrift in a sea of the real and the imagined: a constant feedback loop that has a paradoxically liberating effect. This feeling is fleeting as the viewer becomes trapped in the immense accumulation of images, locked in an endless cycle of passivity and voyeurism.
At the installation’s center an inverted model–a gallery within a gallery–is surveyed with a miniature camera. Large collaged portraits from Kessler’s residency at Dieu Donné hang on the walls supporting Kessler’s idea of the portrait as a metaphor for captivity. A bank of box monitors imprisons familiar actors in blue-face such as Jean-Luc Godard’s Pierrot le Fou, Mel Gibson’s Apocalypto and sequences from the Blue Man Group. Like the viewer, these characters unwittingly become part of the work, and the act of looking and being seen becomes the de facto subject.