inspiration beyond inspiration

Here in Germany there is no shortage of American art being represented. I recently went to an opening exhibition of the artist named James Turrell who strictly works with light and the way the eye and mind perceive it. In Germany and especially in Hildesheim at the HAWK people are very interested in Lighting Design. What is Lighting Design you ask? I was asking myself the same question. Lighting Design here is using light in ways that it is most efficient to light a space, or create a sense of emotion/feeling by using only lighting within a specified space. The HAWK is the only university in Europe that actually has a program specified only for Lighting Design and a few of the students organized this trip to Wolfsburg for the exhibition.

James Turrell

When we got to this exhibition is was so packed with people we could hardly move around in the lobby of the Wolfsburg Kunst Museum. We were given a short introduction in German of what the whole James Turrell Wolfsburg Project involved and why it was so special. Then we were released into the gallery where there were process pieces of his previous and present work.

Once we got to his main installation we had to wait in a line because there was so many people trying to get into this room. I would see people walking out and looking around in amazement, completely taken aback by what they had seen. I couldn't understand how this piece of work could be so completely mesmerizing to everyone who saw it. Then I got my turn to enter this room...

Everyone had to put little foot booties on so that all the shoes wouldn't ruin the white surface inside. The room was filled with this amazing magenta-violet-blue light that was constantly changing. I could hardly see a single corner of this huge space. And as I walked down this ramp that spanned from the entrance there was a wall in front of me that I could walk up to but wasn't allowed to go too close to. The wall looked like a huge screen with some kind of back lighting to it that made it glow with this unbelievable intensity. But I then found out that the reason no one was allowed to walk closer to this wall was because it was not a wall at all. The wall that was perceived to be only a meter away from me was actually 8 meters away from me and the edge where the wall and the floor met was actually a 130cm drop down into this other section of the room! It's impossible to describe this piece to get the full effect of it. I then walked out of the room and the rest of the museum seemed to be lit by these bright green lights and I realized that it was because my eyes became so adapt to the magenta color within the huge room that natural light became green.

James Turrell's Wolfsberg Project 2009 in Wolfsburg, Germany

All I can say is that I have never been so moved by a piece of art in my life. There was something about this work that seemed so tangent and real that it sparked emotion within every person who saw it. Unbelievable.

James Turrell has also done work for the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis which some of the readers here might have seen before. Check out some more of James' work and be inspired. It is amazing how simple light can be used as a medium to inspire some complex and engaging ideas.

Sky Pesher by James Turrell created for the Walker Art Center in 2005

1 comment:

  1. I just read a little more on this guy! Thats awesome! Wish I could have seen it for myself. Lighting makes all the difference of how we see everything in life...just look at the difference in screen brightness...its insane! and WOW I wish I was there