Artist Daniel Wheeler submerges into new realms
with his latest photography series "GULP", opening April 9, 2009
at Duncan Miller Gallery
Artist Daniel Wheeler in his new photography series GULP, uses the iconic Southern California swimming pool as both medium and muse in which to capture the surrounding, urban landscape. GULP, Wheeler's first exhibition at Duncan Miller Gallery, will be on view from April 9 through May 30, 2009. An opening reception for the artist will be held on Thursday, April 9, from 7-9 p.m. In these large-scale, color photographs, Wheeler makes the connection that "The peculiar garden that is urban Southern California would not exist without added water. With my photography, it's viewed through that chlorinated lens." To create these unique landscape images, the performance element is key: in each shot, Wheeler fully submerges in the swimming pool as he points his camera to the surface of the water, capturing the play of light and image distortions created by one gulp, one singular breath and exhalation. The results are surprising and strikingly beautiful images that are suggestive rather than descriptive, alluding to "landscape" rather than describing them explicitly.
In GULP, the symbols of the "California Dream" take on a more elusive and subversive tone to that of David Hockney's sun-drenched Malibu houses and deep-blue swimming pools. Both may allude to dreams and longings, but Wheeler's goal is experiential. The sensuousness of the images are striking in person. By choosing to mount the images in large, square formats, Wheeler wants to "cajole viewers out of their learned response to the environment into a more sensory experience of it". As we stand in front of the finished picture we are inserted into the action and--by extension--into the artist's submerged presence. The reward is that we are fully involved in a series of sensations and effects that engages us in an almost subliminal way, testing memory, concepts and habitual responses.
An ongoing project that began in 2005, GULP is an extension of 25 years of artistic explorations that include sculpture, performance, video, environments, drawing and photography. Transplanted to Southern California after receiving his BFA at Brown University, Wheeler's artistic practice emphasizes conceptual and performative uses of language and the body. Wheeler has exhibited in a number of important gallery and museum exhibitions nationally and internationally. His work can be found in private and public collections across the U.S. such as the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles, CA; Laguna Art Museum, Laguna Beach, CA; Santa Barbara Museum of Art, Santa Barbara, CA; Lux Institute, Rancho Santa Fe, CA; and the Addison Gallery of American Art, Wesleyan University, Middletown, CT. His latest project is an installation called Trog's Loop, commissioned by the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, NASA, and the Spitzer Space Center at Caltech.