Light Sculpting with James Turrell

Inspiration Issue #8: Art Icon James Turrell

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“I am not an “earthwork” artist. I am totally involved in the sky. Let me make this very clear: the main thing is that I am totally interested in space and not in form. James Turrell, Arch Daily”

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“My work does have a lot more to do with painting than it does with sculptural or architectural senses, because the first thing that is important is that the light is used as material, and that it has a physical presence as such, and that space is solid and filled and never empty”

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“There is no object in my work. There never was. There is not image within it. I have: no object, no image, no point of focus. My interest is in plumbing the space. James Turrell, Arch Daily”

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“Art is a completed pass. You don’t just throw it out into the world—someone has to catch it. James Turrell, Harpers Bazaar”

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” I always felt that art was more interested in posing the question than it was in getting the answer, but I’ve come to more recently think that art is the answer. James Turrell, PBS”

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“…if you go to the Rocky Mountains, to a high altitude where it is cold, you see sky that is such a crisp blue you feel that you could cut it and put it in cubes! That is the kind of sky I want, and I have been able to get it by selecting the altitude. There are gradations near the horizon where the blue is lighter, and then gradually, toward the zenith, it gets deep. With Roden Crater I have taken out the first fifteen degrees of height by aiming the tunnel sight lines above that level. At that point you see thirty degrees less than one hundred eighty degrees. That is how you get that incredible color – by eliminating all of the white at the horizon. James Turrell, Arch Daily”

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” I’m interested in having a light that inhabits space, so that you feel light to be physically present. I mean, light is a substance that is, in fact, a thing, but we don’t attribute thing-ness to it. We use light to illuminate other things, something we read, sculpture, paintings. And it gladly does this. But the most interesting thing to find is that light is aware that we are looking at it, so that it behaves differently when we are watching it and when we’re not, which imbues it with consciousness. Often people say that they want to touch some of the work I do. Well, that feeling is actually coming from the fact that the eyes are touching, the eyes are feeling. And this happens because the eyes are quite sensitive only in low light, for which we were made. We’re actually made for this light of Plato’s cave, the light of twilight. James Turrell, PBS”

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