Wednesday, August 29, 2007

James Turrell

Three Gems was an experience I will never forget. Ever. It is pristine. His work very simply plays with light, sound, touch, smell, and views. He is one of the few sculptors who actually plays with the five senses and as such it is hard to not call him an architect. I went into Three Gems with a group of people, then twice more alone and I will never ever try to describe it.

Roden Crater is slowly coming along, slowly. Apparently construction progresses in spurts based on funds. However, Alpha Tunnel may be completed. Rodenmonk got in and posted the video on youtube. I asked about the experience and rodenmonk said, "the week before we were there, Turrell and company held the first-ever lunar projection in the tunnel (the moon aligns with the mouth of the telescope every 18.5 years or something); also, Turrell plans on putting in about 25 more celestial viewing rooms, another tunnel, and an amphitheater between the two crests of the craters. The video is still mysterious--the camera couldn't adjust to the light at the end, obviously, thereby obscuring the room with the bronze staircase, leaving things still a bit unclear. but I like it that way. It seemed to drag a little at normal speed, even though I was running up the entire scope as i shot it (it's 854 feet long--I was out of breath by the time I reached the light!). Note the dim circle at the very beginning of the video: that's the solid slab of marble that serves as a surface for projection of the moon."

If you live in Seattle and have not gone to the Henry Art Museum since 2003 or have not sat in Light Reign alone, do so now. Like Three Gems it presents a skyscape. His skyscapes are starkly meditational and I warn you that going inside any of them may confront you in unexpected ways.

He also plays with artificial light sources, creating shapes and canvases that appear solid but actually have no mass. If you're lucky enough to live near a Turrell, go see it. Here is a list of his works and their locations.


It's easy to say he is my favorite sculptor/architect right now, damn easy. For those who don't know, I am currently designing a meditation chamber on a floating platform in the middle of the south pond in the UI Arboretum - the new one. The simple, stark, meditative, rich feel of his work is very influential in my design. My two other inspirations are the movie "Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter, and Spring Again" and the quiet and astounding equilibrium in Alexander Calder's work.

ps - search flickr for James Turrell or just link here to the first page.

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