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JAMES TURRELL | PERCEPTION, LIGHT, COLOUR AND SPACE
November 17th 2017
For over half a century, American artist James Turrell has explored light as his principal medium and object, creating immersive environments that are aimed at literally ‘enlightening’ viewers to the changes in the illuminated landscape around them, as well as their own observations of it.
by Tessa Yee
ARTIST RE-VISITED
“My work has no object, no image and no focus. With no object, no image and no focus, what are you looking at? You are looking at you looking.”

This week Eyestorm re-introduces James Turrell - now considered to be one of the world’s greatest living artists, and one of the pioneers of ‘light art’. Turrell began making artwork from light projections whilst studying his MFA in fine art at the Claremont Graduate School in California in 1966, after earlier studies in perceptual psychology, mathematics and astronomy, which no doubt influenced his developing artistic practice. Through the manipulation of light rather than pencil or paint, Turrell’s art is intended to not just be seen, but more importantly; experienced. Using immersive installations, he draws attention to the way we see and interpret light, using clever ‘tricks of the eye’ to play with this idea of perception versus reality.

Turrell’s most ambitious work to date is the infamous ‘Roden Crater’ set in the remote desert landscape of Arizona, in and around a ginormous crater from an extinct volcano. The work is a culmination of the artist’s lifetime of research into the field of human perception and the effects of light. Still unfinished, ‘Roden Crater ‘ was started in the 1970s and is an epic installation piece made up of a series of underground tunnels and chambers that feature ‘skyspaces’ - special viewing windows that look up to the sky. Within these chambers viewers experience the colours and details of the sky warping and changing before their eyes due to the natural variants in the light outside. Intended as both a mesmerizing and contemplative experience, Turrell encourages viewers to understand that the colours they are seeing are not a reality, but a perception of their own making.
James Turrell

Elliptic Ecliptic A , 1999

30(w) x 40(h) cm
12.01(w) x 15.94(h) inches
Ilfochrome
Edition of 500
PRICE
$ 550.00
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While Turrell is perhaps best known for his large-scale site-specific installations such as ‘Roden Crater’, the artist has also created a number of limited edition prints capturing the natural phenomenon of light. His editions confront the challenge of translating light itself, onto paper, through the use of photography and inks. Turrell explains the distinction between light and ink and the way colour interacts in these different mediums, as his primary challenge: “When you pour ink…if you mix blue and yellow, you get green; but if you mix blue light and yellow light, you get white”.

In 1999, James Turrell created a series of prints titled Elliptical Ecliptic released exclusively by Eyestorm. This series commemorated the total eclipse that occurred in England on the 11 August that year. Through the medium of photography Turrell captures this rare phenomenon - the moment when the sky is blackened, with the piercing light of the sun still forcing its way through the thick clouds. Turrell was fascinated with capturing this play of light caused by the eclipse, and that year, also built one of his famous ‘skyspace’ installations in Cornwall - the Elliptical Ecliptic - taking the form of an elliptical aluminium shed with an elliptical opening cut in the roof. Within this chamber, gazing upwards, the sky suddenly appears brighter, with the subtle colour changes and details coming right into focus. As with his earlier installations of this kind, the viewers experience of colour is being subtly manipulated by the design of the chamber, which tunnels your vision upwards, and also features concealed lights that change in response to the light outside. This viewing chamber was specifically designed for viewers to experience and contemplate the full visual effects of the eclipse, and as with all Turrell artworks, you are encouraged to stay that little bit longer, in order to fully recognise and contemplate your experience of light.
James Turrell

Elliptic Ecliptic C , 1999

40(w) x 30(h) cm
15.94(w) x 12.01(h) inches
Ilfochrome
Edition of 500
PRICE
$ 550.00
COLLECT NOW
 
 
  THANK YOU FOR MAKING AN OFFER  
  YOU WILL RECEIVE AN EMAIL SHORTLY WITH A COPY OF YOUR OFFER  
 
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From the capturing of light through complex photographic techniques, to creating full experiences of light in his large-scale installations, James Turrell explores the curious ways in which our brain interprets light, and the assumptions we make about what we see - assumptions caused by our own sensory limitations as well as the contextual and cultural norms we live with. His artwork can be an enlightening and awakening experience as we realise that what we see is not always what is real, and our very perception of reality can change at the blink of an eye.

The four photographic editions, titled Elliptic Ecliptic A, Elliptic Ecliptic B, Elliptic Ecliptic C and Elliptic Ecliptic D are available from £480.00 and you can find more details on James Turrell artist page which can be found here.
 
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