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Doug Wheeler

RM 669

1969

Doug Wheeler’s RM 669 comprises curved white walls encased by a floor and ceiling that seem to recede with every step one takes toward the square of light positioned on the far wall. Inside RM 699, there are no hard edges; the sides of the room waver, while the bodies of other viewers sharpen to silhouettes. To achieve these illusory effects, Wheeler employed several manipulations, including minimizing the number of visible elements within the space and using white paint on the interior surfaces to enhance the way light “paints” the room. He also defused the light so that it casts no shadow. The result is a phenomenon that overtakes the artwork’s individual components; lacking form, the materials dwindle in significance compared to the viewer’s experience.

Doug Wheeler (b. 1939, Globe, Arizona; lives and works in Los Angeles and Santa Fe)
RM 669, 1969
Vacuum-formed Plexiglas and white UV neon light
96 x 96 in.
The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles
Purchased with funds provided by Bullock’s/Bullocks Wilshire

I never worried so much about permanence because I make things that you experience, and then it’s in your mind. Most of my stuff is site specific or site-related, but I feel that’s what we do in life. We have first-hand experiences, and those are the ones we don’t forget. They stay with us and hopefully they’re meaningful enough that they’re with you the rest of your life. That’s pretty much what I’ve always been after. I’ve always tried to do that stuff that has an effect on you that you never forget the first time. —Doug Wheeler