Jon Kessler   
Habeas Corpus, 2007, opaque nad transparent, non-toxic urethan, polyester-satin coverall, 17 x 9 x 7 cm

Born 1957 in Yonkers/New York (USA)
Lives and works in New York City (USA)

Mechanical clatter, buzzing and whirring fill the rooms where Jon Kessler’s installations are exhibited. The sounds are made by his moving sculptures – kinetic objects that are much more than sophisticated technical gimmicks. They are complex, multimedia installations that often incorporate surveillance cameras, projectors and monitors that constantly record and reproduce images of their surroundings. Not infrequently the viewer becomes himself the object of surveillance – and thus a part of the work. His work The Hostage initially impresses the viewer with its size and its acoustic presence. Its visible mechanisms invite you to get closer and to take a closer look at the details. The exposed machinery makes it possible to trace every movement in all its technical detail and to gradually see through the functions with which the three built-in cameras capture the interior of the installation and transmit it to the screen in real time.

There, they deliver a confusing program to the viewer: a blindfolded stuffed owl seems to fly up and down in a mirrored barrel as if trying to escape its prison. A rotating landscape comes closer and closer to the camera. It turns out on closer inspection to be an image of the Bronx, a district of New York. Finally, a camera moves on a rail into a cardboard box, the lid of which is opened by a mechanism at regular intervals. As this happens, the lighting inside the box dramatically changes. The output on the monitor is reminiscent of walking through a ruined house under flickering lights. The title of this work appears on the back of the box: The Hostage. Despite its technical sophistication, the construction seems archaic, in apparent opposition to the complex confrontation that is taking place on the screen.


Text: Ines Koenen