The colors, man…

September 13th, 2009 Comments Off on The colors, man…

If it weren’t for the gasps of the others, I’d have thought I was losing my mind–their sounds of startled appreciation told me they too were seeing what I was: a world awash in shifting color, with the occassional flash and pulse of bright, intense light.

We were laying on a black square of marble floor in an empty room that makes up an exhibit called Sky Space in the James Turrell museum at the Colome winery. We were participating in a piece of art (I would add science and magic to that moniker) that can only be viewed at sunset or sunrise–it involves the mix of natural and artificial light and uses the sun’s waxing or waning rays to envelope the audience in an experience of color that cycles through the spectrum, continuously changing the hue of the room’s ceiling and walls in a show that lasts 30 minutes. The sky itself is part of the work–a giant square, open window in the ceiling frames a section of the changing sky, and uses its colors as the main ingredient of the experience.


Viewing the rest of Turrell’s work was also amazing–a truly immersive and experiential journey through light and color. At one point, one of my travel partners, Gwen, said she, “felt like I was walking in jello.” At another she said, “I was inside an Easter Egg.” Gwen called the empty rooms that either enveloped us in a field of white nothingness or in a disorienting cloud of neon color, “calming and meditative.” I, on the other hand, found my brain turned on full power and set on the extra spin cycle. My eyes vibrated-I thought of Willie Wonka more than once: the trippy boat ride and how Mike TV must have seen and felt his little, empty TV space-I could see and feel emptiness myself, and the experience was a disorienting trick of the mind in collusion with eyes that couldn’t make sense of what they saw.

For some, I bet, the experience might not equal comfort or feel like a creative cyclone, but a terrifying flashback to their drug years.

Its the next day and I can still feel the visceral effect of Turrell’s art.

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