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To encounter a work by American artist James Turrell is to enter another world—a realm where eye and mind meet. The artist engages us, the viewers, in order to make us witnesses of his focus on nature through scientific means. By making us watch and contemplate for extended periods, Turrell also makes us part of his artistic practice.
Turrell is unusual among contemporary artists in that his environments construct spaces, leaving their workings largely unseen.Skyspaces, outside or inside, veil their lighting so that only its effects, and not its cause, are visible. The areas that audiences enter, singly or in groups, are built so that viewers are liberated from normal perceptions.Perceptual cell, for instance, may remind us initially of medical imaging for diagnosis, but instead of closing down our senses, it opens them to new experiences.Turrell strives to go beyond the conventional by naturalizing technology for aesthetic purposes, allowing his grasp of science to suggest the ineffable. As well as showing the variety of his means, such as bright color and white light, neon, LED and other forms of light, and individual and communal encounters inside and out, the exhibition underlines the unique vision that has led him through the last decades in pursuit of light, space and time.
This publication includes an interview with James Turrell by Michael Govan, director of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, and an essay by EC Krupp, astronomer and Director of the Griffin Observatory, Los Angeles.