light reignfall perceptual cell by james turrell now at LACMA, los angeles
 

light reignfall perceptual cell by james turrell now at LACMA, los angeles

 

light reignfall by james turrell is a personal perceptual cell and spherical projection chamber that reveals the multidimensional power of light. now at LACMA until may 29, 2017, designboom participated in the 15 minute interval where the enclosed orb-like structure offered an immersive experience. only for one viewer at a time, each participant wears special headphones and lies down on a narrow bed that slides into the spherical chamber like an MRI machine. once inside, a sequence of saturated light (operated by a technician) envelopes the viewer, highlighting the multi-sensory power of light and the complexities of the human eye.

 

 

james turrell’s light reignfall @ LACMA
video courtesy andrew van baal

 

 

turrell’s 2011 ‘perceptual cell’ sculpture is made of fiberglass, steel, and neon light. those who enter are totally surrounded by a field of illumination, devoid of edges, spatial boundaries, and rectilinear planes that typically carve out depth and space. sharp fluctuations in the color of light continue throughout the duration of the 15-minute long program, altering viewers perception and understanding of the area that surrounds them. 

 

growing out of the artist’s work at the art and technology program at LACMA in 1969, these perceptual cells’ offer, what turrell believes, is the potential for transformation and psychological growth. ‘in working with light, what is really important to me is to create an experience of wordless thought, to make the quality and sensation of light itself something really quite tactile’, turrell explains.

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all images courtesy of andrew van baal

 

 

alla gadassik — an assistant professor at emily carr university of art + design whose essay on james turrell’s vision machines analyses their techniques and impact — describes her experience: without any edges, borders, or perspective markers inside the dome, the space is at once tiny and immense. a dim white glow illuminating the entire field of vision turns the dome into a metallic womb, until a saturated blue floods the space to transform it into a small private planetarium or simulated sky. the cell contracts only if one remembers how it appears from the outside, not as it is felt from the inside. the color fields begin to change, and then a strobe light fickers with variable rhythm throughout the transformations, so rapidly that I lose track of its actual tempo and cannot tell with certainty when and if it actually appears.

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‘almost immediately my entire field of vision is filled with moving shapes and forms, many of them tinted with whatever hue fills the dome, but some of them appearing in a contrasting hue or eliding any clear association with an identifiable color,’ gadassik continues. ‘the moving forms speed up, slow down, morph, blend, substitute one for another — I am watching what could only be described, somewhat inadequately, as a geometric abstract animated film that hovers in some indeterminate zone between my body and the dome’s architectural shell, between the perceptual cells of my organism and the technological frame that envelops them.

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