🎨James Turrell - Seeing Everything
Perception is key.
“Well I have always been known as a light artist, but rather than being someone who depicted or painted light I wanted to have the work to be light.” - James Turrell
Born in 1943; the once pilot in his teens, then into his 20s turned mathematician, astronomer and psychologist has had a fascination with the sky all his life. Considering the sky as his studio, material and canvas.
Talking to the Guggenheim museum Turrell talks about the current nature of contemporary art. He believes people are often put back by it feeling it is too in their face, not willing to submit into the realm. For him an important step is to create something that people want to submit too, but there is reward for having done that.
“James Turrell is one of the foremost artists associated with the light and space movement, which began in Southern California in the mid 1960s. Where as many other artists created sculptures or objects that housed light, Turrell is interested in the materiality of light as a medium and especially of human function.” - Nat Trotman Guggenheim Museum
“There’s almost a physical engagement with colour and light in his work. His pieces enact not just an emotional response to colour but a sharpening of all your perceptual faculties. After you have spent some time looking at Turrell, you walk out and pay attention to how even an ordinary lightbulb casts light upon the wall, or how the sky changes not just at sunset but constantly throughout the day and night.” - Alison de Lima Greene tells Aesthetica Magazine.
“A lot of it is the idea of seeing yourself seeing, understanding how we perceive.”
Located in the Roden Crater, Arizona; his magnus opus project began in 1977, taking aim at huge earthmoving to challenge the feat of landscape art.
The work is dedicated to represent the culmination of the artist’s lifelong research in the field of human visual and psychological perception, The Roden Crater is a controlled environment for experiencing and contemplation of light. Turrell’s immersive work with how we see light in varying contexts, both natural and created, led him to conceive an artwork so remote from manmade distractions. More akin to communally developed sites of ancient Incas; the crater is fashioned with tunnels and apertures, capturing light directly from the sun in daylight hours, and the planets and stars at night. Turrell’s magnus opus seeks to function as a naked eye observatory, linking the physical and ephemeral, the objective with the subjective, in a transformative sensory experience.
Each and every one of his works the pieces are intended to create a meditative and contemplative atmosphere. Relating to quaker meanings, where people gather in silent prayer and meditate together until the spirit moves them to speak. So there’s a mood of silent contemplation that comes through a lot of many Turrell’s pieces.
In more pop culture relevancy Kanye West applies a lot James Turrell’s work to his music and design. In recent memory his Sunday Service gatherings, morphing the Sunday Services voice with the warm lights creates a special calling.
“We went to visit James Turrell, in the Roden Crater in Arizona, and when you’re in that space I had to just.. take some steps back. The only thing that I could parallel with James Turrell, what he’s doing, is to contribute something musically. To learn more about sonics that are healing” Kanye West telling David Letterman courtesy of Netflix.
At it’s core Turrell’s art is influenced by the notion of pure feeling, it strives in describing the indescribable. He says, “My work has no object, no image, no focus. With no object, no image and no focus. what are you looking at? You are looking at you looking. What is important to me is to create an experience of wordless thought.”
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