Turrell Talks - from Glasstire.com

On Friday afternoon, October 18, James Turrell, accompanied by former CAMH Senior Curator Lynn M. Herbert, spoke on his artistic career, his reason for going into cattle ranching work and the culmination of the newest Texas Skyspace: The Color Inside, located on the rooftop of the Student Activities Center at UT-Austin all while sipping a venti vanilla frappuccino with “James” streaked across the cup in wax pen.

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Turrell stressed the importance of the student ownership of the piece, which was funded in part by activity fees every student must pay.  Turrell was complimentary to Herbert, who curated his 1998 exhibition at the CAMH, noting her early support and vision. Guided by Herbert, Turrell took the audience through his career, starting with discussions of his first studio and his realizations that light could be a medium with endless possibilities, neither “additive nor subtractive”.

What stood out is Turrell’s obsession with controlling the spaces he inhabits, as well as those he makes for others. He designs benches for his installations, he rearranges the earth for his exploits, and upon arriving, he immediately rearranged the staged furniture….

you can read the full post at:image

12/25: Aaron

A new theme has developed for me lately. Something about the ephemeral nature of friendship has me obsessed with relationships, understanding people better and loyalty. I keep thinking about how its only been a couple months, weeks really, since the exhibition opened and already my loyalties have re-aligned, my understanding of who people are has changed and relationships have ended. Aaron is a good reminder that it’s not always like that.

It’s been about six years since we met. The kids we were then are still just as snot-nosed, just a little bit worse-for-wear. Bad relationships, bad habits and bad decisions have culminated in this present, stable state. Happier? Hopefully. Better for it? Surely. After years of off and on contact, Aaron and I have been connected by this project. Somehow, reconnecting once again meant a valuable supporter of this project. He was my pilgrim. Traveling to see the exhibition. Coming to be part of this. 

Aaron, someone who I sometimes see as stubbornly introspective, is stunningly aware. James Turrell’s room’s filled with the glowing museum visitors reminded him of community, humanity and made him feel safe. I feel intrigued by his first answer: strangers. I feel relieved by his fourth answer: community, one-ness. For some reason I keep projecting some sort of discomfort upon him, a reminder that those quiet, curious, beautiful minds are not always as anxious or self-conscious as mine may be.

A mind like that allows itself to be curious. Aaron touches things. Aaron stares. He smells, and asks questions. He doesn’t think about it, he needs to know. I love those questions. Riddles of time locked in the objects he is drawn to. I am happy to engage, happy to entertain these exercises in context, history, materials and technique. Aaron makes things. I thought he would ask me how the walls were made, what kind of lights they used, or comment upon the construction. But Aaron just saw the other people. This is a facet of Turrell’s work that I am happy to be faced with.

Most of his spaces; selfless temples of light, are communal. I keep saying the same thing to my friends who work in the exhibition, “trust him”. They think it’s a bit silly, but I think it’s important. I wanted to sit in the Ganzfeld. But I realized that if I was meant to sit, there would be a bench. If I was meant to be alone, there wouldn’t be seven other people in there.I can’t deny the importance of the ever-present shadow, murmur and glimmer-in-the-eye of the people who share those illusionistic spaces. I get to choose one of them; the rest is up to chance.

 

What Did You See?

Rooms with walls and light with strangers in them.

Was It Art?

Yes.

How Was It Made?

Sheet Rock & L.E.D.s/Projectors

What Was It About?

The other people in the rooms/community/one-ness/god/spirituality

Does it Deserve To Exist?

Yes.

Five Words To Describe How the Experience Made You Feel:

Comfortable. Observant/aware. Open. Happy. Content


11/25 - Rhodes

I don’t know what it is to be a believer. I never have been one. What a task it must be.

Rhodes proved to me that maybe it’s a little easier to understand than I thought before.

We never talked about God. We talked about art, school, coffee, cycling, camping, making things, wood, Santa Fe, crystals, and his kitten. He was one of those people that you get along with so well you wonder if you are tailoring yourself to be a friend, or you really just do have all the same interests. But somehow God is what his visit left me thinking about. As I read his answers the morning after they left, at 4 am, I was brought to tears. Rhodes believed-in and was reassured-of something in those rooms. Something I feel too.

He felt something timeless, he felt something that ‘already existed and always will’. We could be talking light, but I have a feeling that it’s something bigger than that. And for once, I am not afraid. 

I told him about how my little brother walked into Ganzfeld and proclaimed his own thesis: “This is about God.” We were both in awe that a child who has no background in formal religion would say things like this. Joaquin felt reassured of his abstract ideas, something I think Rhodes identified with.

Rhodes’ transcendent experience in Turrell is based on the feeling of assurance of something greater. All too often my own experience is the opposite. These rooms filled with strangers only induce melancholy. For Rhodes the cycles of color represented time, the seasons, a beautiful illusion. For me the cycles of color sometimes seem ominously breathing, a reminder that everything ends, only an illusion of beauty. I am slightly jealous of his optimism, his confidence.  

This is something that has developed in me since I started attending a Catholic University. I now have a better understanding that there is this feeling that is somehow shared amongst the ‘believers’. This spirit, while its physical existence may be debatable is alive and well in the minds of those who choose to believe. This is what connects them. They understand each other because they acknowledge their own humanity, they acknowledge an unknown, and they acknowledge their own humbleness. Something I can’t deny the beauty in. He told me that he ‘really likes for things to connect’ and I can see how those rays of light that illuminate everything in our world could be important, if not omnipotent.

 

 

What Did You See?

God through light and color. The progression of life in all areas (humans seasonal, emotional)

Was It Art?

Yes. Definitely evoked an emotional response…and for me was obviously connected to something greater than human knowledge – that cannot be explained through words.

How Was It Made?

With much thought and attention to detail.

What Was It About?

Connectedness. Infinite Beauty – through the light that continuous to travel…Illusion to a certain extent – but maybe not with the art as the illusion…More a glimpse, a widow into something totally real – timeless, breaking illusion.

Does it Deserve To Exist?

Yes. I don’t know how else to explain it besides – I think what it represents/means already existed, and always will. 

Five Words To Describe How the Experience Made You Feel:

Connected. Alive. Honest. Curious. Inspired. 

10/25: Alden

At my job, I have to walk the fine line of service, friendship and making the whole damn thing look easy. I can make coffee, gossip, and hear the clang of a falling plate in the kitchen; ‘y’all okay back there??’ I, like many of those blissfully studying the arts, make my living in a coffee shop. Yes, I know how to make a Cortado. And yes, I am doing graduate research on 17th century Dutch Portraiture. I am not trying to toot my own horn here, just trying to set up the relationship I have with my tenth companion. Like all coffee shops, we have regulars; and you come to welcome their companionship on those Saturday nights when boredom strikes and people like Alden who work in the tech field are doing a couple hours of work before going out to the bar. Our relationship consisted mostly of snarky comments and the usual run-down of Saturday night events. Once Alden asked me why I hadn’t decided to ‘get my shit together, get a real job and stop smoking so much pot’. I am not sure if I have ever been more offended. Let me stop here and say that I did forgive Alden. Mostly because he didn’t know me, and I have a feeling that like all my visits, that it becomes clear that the time we spend is usually an uncanny reflection of our relationship. This guy who while ordering his dirty-chai bullshit had attempted to somehow set me straight. I wont go into what I wanted to say back at that moment, but lets just say I was never more aware of how stupid people can sound. I shamed him. He apologized.

More recently when I was thinking of people who I would like to take, Alden came to mind. I knew he had ideas about economics, technology and art that I wanted to hear. So I invited him. He, of course, seemed skeptical; I told him to google it. He came back twenty minutes later: “I don’t know what I was looking at but I want to go.” Once again pretty lights and colors prevail. We set it up, we met for coffee and went through the exhibition. He led, he asked questions and it took less than an hour. Efficiency. 

I really liked our conversation about workshops and who actually makes this kind of stuff. I explained that most artists like James Turrell are representations of much larger groups of people working together in the common goal, ‘Team Turrell’. We talked about James Turrell himself, and how he has studied many different fields, yet is able to fuse these interests in creating exceptional work that is seemingly simple: lights, projector, square. In his responses, Alden reflects upon the realization that this system of busy and complex units was working together to create work that seemed easy-going, flippant and almost shallow. I think this is pretty profound. It became obvious to Alden that at times those things that seem easily understood, perhaps even carefree, are those which are the most complex. It takes great mastery to make the whole damn thing look easy.


What Did You See?

At first glance just colors, shapes and pretty lights. My initial casual observations everything appeared pretty basic. Then I started examining the level of detail. My mind began to race. I wanted to know how it was made, who made it, and why certain things were presented. It was as though I had been initially deceived. Inside the simplicity and emerging microcosm of complexity emerged. Bursting like a balloon full of confetti, with individual poems written on each tiny shred of paper. At the museum, the segmented spaces were all encompassing, like like-like shadow boxes. Almost instantly removing you from the distractions of outside world. I remembered being frustrated when someone would speak, or walk in my field of vision, which instantly removed me from the experience. I wanted it to be MY experience, and be alone in my thoughts.

Was it Art?

Yes, but its not just art. Lot’s of things are ‘art’, but this was also an experience.

How Was it Made?

It was obviously a team of highly skilled people coming together on this project. Experts in construction, light design, mathematics, etc.

What Was It About?

There may not be a right or wrong answer. Of course I could be mistaken. Each person may bring their own life experiences and may each leave with a different answer. For me, I saw re-occuring themes: Origins of the Universe. Human Life, and Reflections inside myself. That’s me pulling from my own experiences to explain what I saw. Others from different backgrounds would see things from a different perspective.

Does it Deserve To Exist?

Sure, and I welcome it. I already see it happening in the art community now, but I imagine art spaces like these will become more commonplace.

Five Words to Describe How the Experience Made You Feel:

Luminous, minimal, desolate, persnickety, introspective


Photograph by Benjamin Lowy/Reportage, for The New York Times. Video by Leslye Davis/The New York Times.

9/25: Kirby

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This was an example of a visit that wasn’t necessarily about what we saw. Another companion who I felt needed the time, not the exhibition. I wanted to be with him for a reflective period of time, something valuable with this elusive man. He had been avoiding it. I know this, even if he doesn’t want to own up to it. I don’t care what he says but it moved him. He was able to access something that was pure, calming and usually non-existent in his own life. He said he didn’t think it was art, he said that art was supposed to tell him something. He relies upon concrete facts when his own mind seems to have an ever-fluxing foundation.

As we walk into the first room Kirby giggles, gives me his sly eye and walks into the room. His breath is taken away at the glowing green of Acro (Green) [Pictured]. He lays down on the carpeted floor, arms spread. I am stunned. I just grin. A couple walks in; I unapologetically continue to treat Kirby as a new facet of this ever-fluxing piece of art. They walk out, I could tell these really-cool-laid-back yuppies were doubting themselves so hard: ”Did I get it?!”  Joy. 

When we sat in Wedgework, I felt like I could physically feel him relax. Like when you fall asleep next to someone and you feel their breathing slow, their shoulders droop. This excited ball of energy sat in this ominous room for over twenty minutes. I wondered what he was thinking about. I practiced breathing. I wanted to punch the girl next to me who insisted on text-messaging in a completely dark room. I giggled at patrons consistently bumping into pitch-black walls. Once we exited I knew he was over it [the exhibition], and couldn’t wait to know what he had been thinking about all that time. Like I said before, he refused to admit that Turrell’s work was ‘art’ but something happened in that room. He revealed in his conversation that he was able to allow his mind to go places he hadn’t gone yet; he finally felt safe, calm and ready. 

With Kirby, I never feel like I get enough. I feel like he eludes me because he knows that maybe I will understand or care. He let me in. And he made me swear to be a confidant. That’s why I feel like this reflection should end here; way before I want it to. This exhibition and this reflection so much like him: not giving away enough, exciting, compelling and mysterious; an anomaly.

 

**Kirby refused to write his own answers. These are the product of much prompting and don’t really convey the power of some of the things he said during our conversation. These questions, in my mind, are meant to stand as physical artifacts of our time, not some measure of understanding. 

What Did You See?

I saw some things. I saw some lights. I didn’t really have much.

Was it Art?

I don’t know, isn’t art supposed to convey some message? I don’t think it did that. Certainly wasn’t conventional.

How Was it Made?

Projectors and shit. I stopped caring about how it was made. Maybe that means it was successful. 

What Was It About?

Nothing. There was not a goddamn thing, it was too vague.

Does it Deserve To Exist?

Yeah.

Five Words to Describe How the Experience Made You Feel:

Content, Contemplative, Bored, Introspective


Photo: James Turrell, Acro, Green, 1968, projected light, the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Museum purchase. © James Turrell

8/25: Carole

Going into this visit I thought a lot about color. Carole has an eye unlike anyone I have ever known. Her palette is spectacular. She is an artist in the truest sense; driven by aesthetics, love and the need to create. Regardless of medium Carole manages to merge an appreciation for a wide array of processes, kitsch, design and things people just plain like. She is good at making things that make her happy, and happen to please others too. I think that is pretty damn admirable. 

I almost always think of her when I go into Ganzeld; the saturated pinks, oranges and yellows alongside the rich, smooth walls are so reminiscent of the things she fills her life with: flowers, brightly painted walls and texture. I like that Carole, as an artist, accepts the mechanics and allows herself to embrace the awe. She discusses in her reflections that she was able to release herself from the ‘technicalities’ and just experience the color and geometry; something that took me several visits to accept.

While we walked through the exhibition and spent time after, I was also reminded that this project is about support. Understanding those around you who support you, want to participate and love you. Something I realize is all too often non-existent for some. This understanding is one of the most powerful realizations of this project. As people volunteer, tell me they read my blog, or ask me how it’s going I am reminded of the community I am part of, something I wouldn’t give up for anything. Carole is a symbol of this is many ways: as my stepmom who has never fit the ‘evil’ typecast, as the entrepreneur who proves that sometimes doing exactly what you want does make you successful, as the friend who represents her community and helps make it a better place.

 

What Did You See?

Lights, shapes and entrances.

Was it Art?

Of course, and it was clever too, in different ways – both in the mechanics of the show and they way it affects you (the viewer) on a physical level.

How Was it Made?

Projectors, walls, lights. I found that part interesting but was less interested in finding out the technicalities, than just being in awe of the colours and shapes created and having it seem magical.

What Was It About?

 Exploration and journeys into the unknown.

Does it Deserve To Exist?

Yes. Work like this deserves to exist and have an audience and have us experience it. 

Five Words to Describe How the Experience Made You Feel:

Excited, Optimistic, Unsure, Happy, Calm

7/25: Tom

“Color and light overtook me.”

 Tom was as pure an audience anyone could ask for. He believes in Turrell. He accepts and embraces. His answers are surprisingly short, really. Tom is someone that is able to impress with his ability to articulate, but there is something very honest and simple about some of his short answers; completely, exactingly, turning yourself over. Tom has similar qualms as me with guests insisting upon ‘’figuring-out’ the illusion, running their hands across projections, or asking the attendants for explanation.

 As we sat and talked after visiting the exhibition we noted how we both appreciate simply sitting and observing social situations, something he was learning to appreciate more with time and something I was practicing with this whole experience. He obviously has taken the time to better understand Turrell’s work, as well as showing off his subtle understanding of a slew of artists, genres and mediums. As we talked about the way some of the pieces seemed to pulse with our own cardiology, his discussion was reminiscent of John Cage’s time spent in the noise-cancelling chamber: no matter how much he tried, the sound of his own heart-beating was deafening. Turrell’s work was a visual representation: no matter how dark, how subtle, we cant escape the blood running through the veins in our eyes, contracting and retracting with each ray of light.

There was never a moment when I doubted the validity of Tom’s statements or perceptions, but as I reflected on the discussion I was faced with a new challenge. Tom agreed with me. Tom said some of the same things people have said to me already. I don’t think he read their answers, I think it has something to do with the nature of the work itself. As I began to review the written responses, I noticed an even deeper connection: words or themes being relied upon commonly. This has brought me to a new point in my project. I have begun to consider perhaps not a new hypothesis, but maybe an additional one: do my companions mold their answers to what they believe maybe the correct answer/what I would like to hear or is the work so successful that people are moved in ways that are common within the spectrum of human emotion.

I love the time I spend with people like Tom, who share my appreciation of something pure and beautiful. But sometimes you want someone to challenge you, to say: fuck you and the horse you rode in on. I think I can confidently say I have grown: I haven’t defined the answer to my questions before I even ask them, something I am all too guilty of. I am only racking up new ones.

  

What Did You See?

Light, color, void, illusions, purity, my heartbeat through the pulsing of color in my eye. I saw nothing in the most pure way imaginable. Perfectionism. People who cant turn themselves over to something. 

Was it Art?

Completely.

How Was it Made?

Exactingly.

What Was It About?

Turning yourself over to the work. Letting it change the way your body functions, the way yours eyes and brain perceive the world around you. Separating you from your senses so they have to create something new to compensate.

Does it Deserve To Exist?

Not only does it, but we are lucky to have it.

Five Words to Describe How the Experience Made You Feel:

Color and light overtook me. 

6/25 - Dad

I just typed up my Dad’s responses. They are short. They are concise. I love them. They kind of make me laugh. It makes me understand a little better how my Dad’s mind works. One of my out-of-town friends has been texting me lately and we talk about the project; he is so perplexed: “how does this make you understand people better?” I don’t know how exactly to explain it but each time something becomes obvious. 

When I was in the exhibition I was reminded of my father’s engineering mind. He understands architectural structures, the complex lighting systems, the prints on the walls and how the floor was made. He has always been that kind of guy; plumbing, car mechanics, sheet rock and electrical. What is remarkable though is that he is able to bridge two sets of mind: the technical mind and the conceptual. While his paintings involve projections, manipulated imagery and a precise process they also are impressive in their palate, metaphor and theory. A painting I spend everyday with of his, a larger fluorescent painting from his ‘Stripe’ series, reminds me of the consideration of color, light and movement that Turrell is also concerned with, even a ‘zip’ down the center is reminiscent of Turrell’s Tycho White: Single Wall Projection, (1967).

The discussion I had about the exhibition with my Dad was short. Not because we can’t talk. But the opposite, we talk with ease: we discussed, we agreed, we moved on. His short answers don’t make me think he didn’t get it; he had internalized these ideas long before in his own thoughts, this was simply a reminder of the beauty possible when money and brilliance come together.

 

Take your Dad; see what you learn about him.

 

What Did You See?

Light, walls, optical art, sculpture.

Was it Art?

Yes.

How Was it Made?

With sheet rock walls with light projections – various lights/colors

What Was It About?

Illusion. Is anything we see real? Is reality real? What is Art? 

Does it Deserve To Exist?

Yes. 

Five Words to Describe How the Experience Made You Feel:

Compelled, Disoriented, Irritated, Amazed, Astonished

5/25: Teresa

                     

People in art school ‘get’ me. While some people have questioned why I would ever want to visit a museum this many times, or how in the world this could possibly be ‘art’, people like Teresa reassure me. She for a while now, has been one of my most treasured sounding boards. She listens, she considers, she responds. These traits are a remarkable thing to find in a friend; especially in coffee-shop shallowness that seems to purvey the social structure. Teresa is interested in process, materials, color, the catalogue and the wall text; a girl after my own heart. She wants to know how and why, but is open to all possibilities. She was genuinely excited. 

While so many of the guests of this exhibition, that I have observed in my visits, fly by work and only take it at face-value, Teresa makes her keen eye alongside an understanding of art appreciation and appropriation obvious. She made the same connection that Alison de Lima Green (Curator of The Light Inside) made on her tour earlier in the week: Tycho White: Single Wall Projection, (1967) was so reminiscent of Barnett Newman and his ‘zips’, something she had discussed in an art theory class that sounded great: ‘White’ a discussion of minimalism, color and light. We noted the stunning beauty of Turrell’s sketches, hung along the outer walls of the two larger rooms Wedgework and Ganzfeld. While many have walked right past these seemingly simple workings, Teresa and I were able to appreciate the fine gradients in color, the mastery of light, the printmaking process, and the obsessive quality that only an artist could comprehend. While these sketches can be perceived as off-handed studies in light and form, fellow artists recognize that Turrell can’t succeed without drawn-out experimentation, visualization and consideration. Those aren’t just sketches, and these aren’t just lights.

As we walked through the exhibition, I appreciated the fact that Teresa is my first companion that has seen one of the other two exhibitions happening in congruence with the one at the MFAH; she had seen the counterpart at the Guggenheim in New York City only a week prior. While Teresa admitted that the main hall of the Guggenheim where Turrell has installed an impressive light program was quite possibly one of the most beautiful things she has ever seen, it was obvious that the scale and diversity of the work at the MFAH was the obvious forerunner. This makes me proud. While Houston all too often gets a bad rep, we can proudly tout three permanent Turrell installations, as well as fourteen pieces in the MFAH permanent collection. 

The visit with Teresa meant a lot to me. It solidified a friendship. It reassured me of the validity of my own actions. It has made it possible for us to continue the discussion, she has helped me evolve my thesis, hypothesis, and process almost every step of the way; and even when she doesn’t have anything to say, she will always listen.

 

What Did You See?

I saw small spaces transformed into different environments by light.

Was it Art?

It is absolutely Art. Turrell’s exploration of light ad the architectural frame has allowed him to use light as a medium to alter the way space is recognized. The piece I keep thinking about is Ganzfeld. The way it felt to be inside of that space was something I’ve never felt or experienced. The walls were not walls, at least based on what my eyes saw. It looked like a space that had no end and I dot think I moved from the spot I was standing the entire time. I wasn’t looking at art but experiencing it as well.

How was it Made?

Turrell’s older works seem to be made using projected light while his ewer works incorporate LED’s. Also, in one of the works I noticed he actually cut into an angular wall to create the illusion he wanted. I actually gasped for breath when looking at this work from the side rather than head on.

What Was It About?

Light, space and the human perception of these two things. Each work alters how you perceive both light and space. It’s something that definitely needs to be experienced.

Does it Deserve To Exist?

I believe Turrell’s work deserves to exist, but then again, who am I to decide what should or shouldn’t be created.

Five Words to Describe How the Experience Made You Feel:

Small, Quiet, Calm, Overwhelmed, Shy


Image: James Turrell, printed by Peter Kneubühler, First Light Portfolio: B1: Raethro, 1989–90, aquatint, the Museum of Fine Arts Houston, Peter Blum Edition Archive, 1980–1994, Museum purchase with funds provided by the Alice Pratt Brown Museum Fund. © James Turrell 

4/25: Mom

Number 4. While it seems like that number is overwhelmingly small, this has already proven to be one of the most emotionally exhausting projects I have ever worked on. It is hard to explain to people; the questions are quick to come: Why are you doing that? Is it for school? What do you get out of it? Wait, why are you doing that? I don’t mind the questions. Each visit requires a certain amount of intentional thought, compassion and reflection and that is invaluable. I am not sure what I will ‘get out of this’ other than the time I already treasure, having spent hours with some of my favorite people. 

One of those people has been my Mom. Surely the most impressive person I know. I know she would fight me on ‘smartest’, but I would be willing to bet on it. She didn’t say much as we walked through the halls. She never does. I knew that with this visit, with this intellectual woman, it would be in the words she wrote. 

Her analytical answers summed up large themes, consolidated ideas and brought to light poignant notes that I hadn’t considered. But what really made me think was her choice of words. When asked to list five words to describe how the experience made you feel, one of those words was alone. I was struck by this. I was forced to re-read the words of my prior companions, and each one had chosen a word that moved me: life, love, melancholy, alone. Each example a powerful insight into the meaning of that visit. While my mom walked the halls of that exhibition with two people she knew better than any other, she felt a sense of loneliness. I can’t escape that feeling now. 

When I asked her about it, she said that it wasn’t meant to be sad. She said that the illusions of indescribable depth brought her to a place a extreme solidarity. A feeling that reminds one of the singular nature of our lives; while we fill our time with those we love, we can forever only count on ourselves. She described childbirth; knowing that there was not one person, thing, or magical potion that could do this for her, help her out of it, other than her own will. She said death, to her, was a similar sensation and that Turrell’s work channeled the visual and emotional facets of this inescapable fate. I am trying hard not to make this sad, but to impart the practicality of my Mother’s mind.  

What Did You See?

I saw a series of distinct rooms which house installations by James Turrell, either light projected or light from computerized LED lights. 

Was it Art?

In as much as art is an epxerience that urges the viewer to view life from anothers perspective, it was art. 

How Was It Made?

It was engineered through the use of LED lighting and computerized electronic programming of the lights AND the use of a projector (early works). There was also extensive carpentry, or many of the installations not only modified beams and colors of light, but also the room itself was modified. In addition, the MFAH required guests or patrons to under-go certain ritual acts, such as the removal of shoes and the donning of special fabric feet covers.

What Was It About

This was an exploration of how light creates our reality, how light communicates mystical, spiritual states and epiphanies, and how sensory perception can be limited. 

Does it Deserve to Exist?

Certainly. But who am I to judge what ‘deserves’ to exist or not? I don’t feel qualified to make this appraisal.

Five Words to Describe How the Experience Made You Feel:

Awed, Humbled, Alone, Mystical, Contemplative

You like Germans, right? Well they love art theory. 

3/25 - Brittney

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Brittney is part of the inspiration for this project. She is a muse in every sense; beautiful, powerful, full of emotion and covered in flowers. In a way that is deeply platonic and avoiding of any romantic or sexual implications; Brittney is the sort of person who I love to feed, she has the best reactions. She makes you believe she enjoyed it. There isn’t an insincere bone in her body, but what is more impressive is that she understands the power of her emotional output. She is aware that love is a gift that is not often enough given. When I saw the exhibition for the first time, she is what came to mind. I wanted to see from her eyes, I wanted to hear what she would have to say. The deeply saturated pinks, oranges and blues call to mind the love of color and passionate force which is Brittney. 

Brittney didn’t disappoint; as she was physically moved by Turrell’s work I knew what it meant to be an artist. To appreciate the light, the color, the love all around us. To be able to see it. That is the power she holds. I believe this is an enviable trait. She is able to give herself whole-heartedly to an experience. But as I read her responses, and we ate dinner I was also reminded of the power of the artists’ mind to travel to every extreme. 

As this bright, young-thing reflected upon the beauty of this exhibition it somehow brought up the notions of our own mortality, the fear of ones’ own artistic capacities never progressing, and the apathy of a generation. As we discussed the Rodan Crater, she realized the insignificance of our own time. The Crater is not for us, we must perish for it to be complete. Brittney talked about how overwhelming it was to see work like that; work that costs millions, took small armies to build and a lifetime of learning to get right. How would we ever compare? Finally it came to our own generation, we wonder when it will become obvious that this apathy is not constructive. We talk about making things, being inspired and how we feel we are in the minority. We talk about activism, politics and how we feel we are in the minority.  We talk about race relations, being bi-racial, and social ‘passing’. We wonder why more people our age aren’t upset. We wonder why more people our age don’t seem to get it. We wonder why more people our age continue to get oil-jobs but still want to come over and get high. We wonder if Instagram is a force of creativity or a flood of uninspired hipster vomit. We post pictures to Instagram; how will anyone know it happened if we don’t tell the internet? Being passionate sometimes means getting a little riled up. 

This visit was relaxing. I knew that Brittney would take the reins and give me exactly what I needed. She cried, she re-affirmed my own obsession, she held my hand. She is keenly aware; she understands and reciprocates. She is passionate and careful. Though it may seem almost like a cheat, I feel like because I knew what Brittney was going to say, because I knew she would love it and ohh and ahh, I was able to focus. I didn’t feel the need to please her. To impress. And as usual, she only managed to remind me of how impressive love can be. 

What Did You See?

Beautiful spaces with enchanting and sometimes haunting lights. “Nooks” and rooms of emotion.

Was It Art?

In my eyes, of course. Then again, it’s art if I treat it so; and it could also be therapy. 

How Was It Made?

Walls, projections, various lights, seating, ceilings, carpet. Non-visual = memories and thoughts.

What Was it About?

It seems to be about what you ‘get’ from it. And also about conjouring feelings of enlightenment through lights and color. Portals to the secrets of your mind and structures to remain as sanctuaries. 

Does it Deserve to Exist? 

It deserves to exist for those who are self-aware and can appreciate philosophy. 

Five words to describe how the experience made you feel: 

Aware, Emotional, Inspired, Melancholy, Spiritual

Photo Credit: James Turrell, Aurora B: Tall Glass, 2010, LED, the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, gift of the estate of Isabel B. Wilson in memory of Peter C. Marzio. © James Turrell

2/25 - Chance

The second visit taught me that every visit will mean something completely different. Funny how simple that seems, but it became obvious that this visit was not necessarily about the art, but the experience of sharing time with someone else in exploration. After this visit I realize how easy truly great things can be, much like the time I spent with my second companion: Chance. 

The second visit, for me, was the first step beyond the art. I was able to entertain the idea of truly fresh eyes; by being in a space I was now familiar with I could transcend my own awe for the work. I was able to access a newfound excitement for the work; not for myself, but for him. While we laughed and talked in each new space, I didn’t feel intrusive: we were accessing an energy created by the lights, and our own mischevious outlooks. By enjoying the space in companionship it becomes obvious that Turrell’s work is about thoughtful discourse, no matter how quiet and cold those rooms may be. This visit was about learning to dedicate myself to the experience of the other, the selfless ritual. And thankfully I found this not boring nor tedious but an inspiring act. 

The idea of selfless art making had been on my mind that morning. As I read an article in the Houston Chronicle about Turrell I was brought to tears. Glentzer went into detail describing the Rodan Crater, a lifes’ work that continues to center Turrell. The piece entails the reconfiguration and refinement of a natural volcanic crater in Arizona. Like many of his pieces, in this work Turrell has carefully planned the optimal viewing position for his audience. He had explained the moment of true ‘completion’ for the Crater, a moment when the North Star would optimally align…that is, in 2,000 years. This was art not about his own glory or even a reflection of his own society but about creating something beautiful for someone else. 

Chance and I talked a lot about honesty and friendship that day. Something I think he likes to talk about because he prizes them, knowing the power of these forces. I took Chance because I think he is thoughtful. He is intentionally honest. He is easily befriended. And I think all these traits align with those of Turrell’s work. Intentional compassion is a beautiful facet of Turrells work, and the second visit seemed to epitomize that. 

Some people inspire you so much. 


What Did You See?

I saw a humans brain expressed without the bounds of money holding said artist back.

Was It Art?

This particular piece is art in the purest for because it is complety left up the the onlooker for interpretation. the most amazing thing is that not only was it visually pleasing, it also changed/altered my perception. I feel like that gives me the ‘right’ in my subjective opinion to say that this is art in the purest form. Pleasing for all senses. Amen!

How Was It Made?

it was made by a vision of an artist

What Was it About?

It was about how this dude was more badass than others, and instead of some lame painting, he altered my consciousness. 

Does it Deserve to Exist? 

not only doe sit deserve to exist, it should be replicated. Because we as a people need our perspective altered in ways that arent sexualized, materialized, and all-out fucked-up.

Five words to describe how the experience made you feel: 

Interested, Compelled, Grateful, Connected, Love

“..offering an unusual opportunity to experience his immersive light environments that allow viewers to “see ourselves see,” as he puts it.”

Hilarie M. Sheets

A Tribute for Turning Light Into Art

New York Times, March 20, 2013