Critics’ Picks

Heaven's Gate, 2004. Detail.

New York

Jon Kessler

Deitch Projects
18 Wooster Street
April 24–June 5

A surveillance camera zooms in on a Cabbage Patch Kid. Another camera swings over modernist office decor; a third enters a latex vagina; a fourth surveys a ghostly New York City. On a screen embedded in a cardboard box, we watch it all. Titled Heaven’s Gate, 2004, the work provides entry to Jon Kessler’s “Global Village Idiot”—a group of kinetic assemblages that surveille themselves with the aid of video cameras and monitors. In his first New York solo show in ten years, Kessler documents, in live-action special effects, the illusions inherent to media consciousness. Watching the screen, we don’t doubt the veracity of Heaven's Gate's cityscape or even (inured as we are to pornography and to the falsifications of cosmetic surgery, airbrushing, etc.) of the plastic genitalia. The sculptures themselves are eruptions of clamps, tape, and bare lightbulbs; Kessler considers his works finished as soon as they're functional, and doesn't belabor the aesthetics. Furious, stark, without candy-colored shells, his mechanizations expose the inner CPU of transmitted perception.