Famous for a good reason, James Turrell is hands down one of the most fascinating perceptual light artists we have in our world today. His work draws from psychology, aviation and astronomy and - in this designers opinion - is the best altered perception experience you can buy. The Retrospective of his works is on in Canberra until June 2015... and I am very excitedly heading up there this weekend to see it for the second time.
Back in December, we took our Christmas break as a road trip to Canberra to see the retrospective. Both of us walked out with a completely altered view of the world. The architecture of the gallery came alive as our minds processed the changes in depth perception and colour brought on by the exhibition. Excitingly for us, we also got to experience first hand many of the physical changes that coloured light has on the human mind - we got to see science. It was hands down the greatest exhibition we've attended to date - and for a couple of art nuts, that's saying something. The Ganzfeld is awe inspiring - even knowing how it's done you still can't see the edges, how it's built and the colours get into your brain - even though you know that's what's happening. You can't think your way out of a space built by Turrell.
Images borrowed from the internet as no photography allowed inside
This weekend I'm adding something new to the experience and taking a trip into Turrell's "Perception Cell". An experience designed to take you out of the world and into Turrell's. Given how the exhibition affected me last time, I'm looking forward to a mind bending experience. The creativity and ideas that such a dynamic challenging exhibition inspires make me wish that it was always going to be around, but as it isn't I say - get up there at least once, try for twice, and if you're in Canberra, I'd be heading down every week until it's gone to fill my brain with light, colour and creativity.
Luckily, the gallery has a permanent "skyspace" installation, so even if you can't make the retrospective, next time you're in Canberra, you get easily experience a Turrell perception filter, seeing the sky in ways you would never have imagined possible. He's also just installed one at MONA in Hobart. For me, these spaces are calming, inspiring, trans-formative. If I could have one in my home (which you probably can if you have enough of the folding stuff) I would, and I would happily sit there every day and watch the sky.
Whether used for art, or function, light always impacts on our perception. It makes us feel welcome, invigorated, inspired, safe and many other emotions, both complex and benign. It is more than just a physical safety requirement, it is the critical difference in making us feel like we've come home and simply making sure we don't bump into furniture on the way through a house.
I've tried sensory deprivation before - it's pretty challenging stuff, so wish me luck with the Perception Cell - hopefully I come out inspired not altered!