Jame's Turrell's Skyspace
Last night, Tressa and I partook in the experience of viewing the sky through the Oculus created by James Turrell: an open oval window cut into the ceiling of a viewing chamber, with changing colored lights illumination the surrounding walls, in an installation entitled SKYSPACE.
We lay supine on the dark stone benches, looking up at the open oval shape of sky demarcated and illuminated for our psychedelic viewing experience, as sky phased through the blue hues from periwinkle to deep indigo. The clouds passed like cobwebs and dissolving passion bruises on the celestial plain of thigh, birds moved like flecks swirling in a pool, as colored light drenched the upper white walls of the oval room we sat staring up in, framing the shape of sky scape in slow chromatic transition from one exciting pigmentation to the next.
The thrilling phenomena embedded in this experience are several to recount. For example, as different colors seeped up the white walls and met the edge of sky, there took place a dizzying singular pulse of perfection within chromatic contrast: the quality of cobalt heaven meeting the moment of waxing milky orange, and the closeness of those colors, made musical trills for our retina to absorb.
On the inner ring, between the sky and colored walls, there would appear a sliver of hue precisely, almost sickeningly, complementary to the colors framing the sky, creating an electric moment of light haze we could chase around the oval with our gaze. The color settled upon us like a gauzy blanket, staining the softness of our legs crossed together, as our belies rose and fell, rose and fell with our breathing with the sky.
Once or twice we felt flecks of drizzle from the cosmos on our cheeks and thighs, as she teased us with the fantasy of being drenched through the oval in the ceiling; yet she held her moisture.
A star, maybe Mars, flickered in between the wisps of weather like a murmuring code of yellow and gold.
We stood up and crossed the chamber and stood at the periphery and discovered the hazy sickle of moon, sitting just on the rim of the oblong opening. We stood, simply staring, as was all there was to do, while the 9 o’clock bell chimed from the nearby tower on campus, rendering the melody of “I’ve been working on the railroad” with surprise sinister notes reverberating in the sky.
What a surreal constellation of attributes, I thought, what an interesting tableau of vibration: this particular piece of sky, this sensuous company of palms and breathing noses, this bell tolling, this moon sitting on the rim just so, this color lashing out in siren song along the rainbow spectrum.
This could be the greatest artwork I’ve ever seen, I thought. Isn’t this what art is, what we try to do? We frame moments, we frame ideas, we try and encapsulate the quiver of inspiration animating our beings, the quiver of beauty in our environment? We signal to each other, through this designation, that we ought to be present with a moment that is happening. We ought to be present, enough to feel, to unravel into the beauty.
We could just make a frame with our hands and hold it up what we love, and it could be enough.
For an hour or more we lay in the chamber, looking up…and only as our eyes really adjusted, as our nervous systems acclimated to this new experience, were we able to absorb the light play, like sea sponges. An hour with nothing else pressing, nothing else to do. And it was such a gift.