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JAMES TURRELL | PERCEPTION OF LIGHT
July 11th 2019
James Turrell is considered to be one of the world’s greatest living artists, and one of the pioneers of ‘light art’. For over half a century, the artist 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
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 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.

The artist’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. After 45 years in the making and expected to open within the next few years, ‘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

Edition of 500
40(w) x 30(h) cm
15.94(w) x 12.01(h) inches
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James Turrell (American, b. 1943)
40(w) x 30(h) cm
15.94(w) x 12.01(h) inches
Ilfochrome

Stamped and numbered on the back.
Edition of 500
PRICE
$ 750.00
MAKE AN OFFER
Find art trends here >
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 10 August that year. Through the medium of photography the artist captures this rare phenomenon and Turrell was fascinated with capturing this play of light caused by the eclipse.

That same year, Turrell 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.

The photographic editions, ‘Elliptical Ecliptic’, is an interesting series which in many way links to his installations and observations. In ‘Roden Crater’, one room called ‘The Alpha Tunnel’ serves as a naked eye telescope to view the setting moon. At a specific moment, when the full moon is setting, the viewer will see a bright clear beam of light, surrounded by a halo, similar to the effect created by the clouds in the photographs.
JAMES TURRELL
Elliptic Ecliptic B, 1999

Edition of 500
40(w) x 30(h) cm
15.94(w) x 12.01(h) inches
MAKE AN OFFER
Art is about talking with each other and via ‘Make an Offer’ you can have a direct conversation with us and suggest a price for this artwork.
Your Offer *
Name *
Email *
Phone number *
Any Comment? *
* Required fields
James Turrell (American, b. 1943)
40(w) x 30(h) cm
15.94(w) x 12.01(h) inches
Ilfochrome

Stamped and numbered on the back.
Edition of 500
PRICE
$ 750.00
MAKE AN OFFER
Find art trends here >
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 £650.00 and you can find more details on James Turrell artist page which can be found here.
 
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