James Turrell is one of the great contemporary artists. Like almost no other artist Turrell, 75, can say that his raw material is light and its effects on human perception. After more than 40 years of work, the date is approaching when his masterpiece, Roden Crater, could open to the public, as reported by the University of Arizona State, involved in the project.
Apparently thanks to a new wave of donations, including 10 million from Kanye West, and to Turrell's disposition in the next 5 years the project will be completed. In total, 200 million are needed to complete the work, which includes a maze beneath an extinct volcano in the Arizona desert, a dome to follow the celestial movements, as well as an observatory. This is the closest thing man has done to ancient temples to see stars, as we find among the Maya or the Babylonians, where they also sought to create an altered state of consciousness, even a spiritual initiation. This sublime space also has cameras full of water that reflect the sunrise or a room in which visitors can see its shadow with the light of Venus. It is undoubtedly an underground palace for contemplation and meditation.
Inside the crater, Turrel has designed various rooms that work to observe specific celestial events, while the shape of the crater allows all external lights to be filtered to concentrate on the observation of the sky. The sky has been the subject of other investigations in the past, when it has shown through gigantic installations that slightly affecting the properties of light can change even the color with which we perceive the sky.
According to Turrell: "We take light through our skin and create vitamin D. So we are literally light eaters. But it also has a strong emotional charge, which is largely what I work with - the kind of situation it is in actually a theta state, which is thought, but not thought with words. So this is an art that can be a bit difficult to describe. And that is what people always have difficulty [to describe]: the spiritual side of the light."
Experienced in engineering, mathematics, astronomy, literature, history, aviation, expert rancher and with some studies in psychology, Turrell puts the artist of the Renaissance back into our minds, for which no matter of human knowledge is alien. In the past, the artist has said that painting from Rembrandt to Rothko is nothing but the study of light. But Turrell has diluted the border between object and representation making light itself an art form.