James Turrell’s light tunnels and light projections that create shapes that seem to have mass and weight, though they are created with only light. His work The Last Breath consists of a room that appears to have a blank canvas on display, but the “canvas” is actually a rectangular hole in the wall, lit to look otherwise. Turrell’s works defy the accelerated habits of people, especially when looking at art. He feels that viewers spend so little time with the art that it makes it hard to appreciate.
“I feel my work is made for one being, one individual. You could say that’s me, but that’s not really true. It’s for an idealized viewer. Sometimes I’m kind of cranky coming to see something. I saw the Mona Lisa when it was in L.A., saw it for 13 seconds and had to move on. But, you know, there’s this slow-food movement right now. Maybe we could also have a slow-art movement, and take an hour.
Art critic John McDonald writes that Turrell’s works are “dull to describe but magical to experience.”
Musing on the motivations behind his 'skyspaces,' Turrell said, "The sky always seems to be out there, away from us. I like to bring it down in close contact with us, so you feel you are in it. We feel we are at the bottom of this ocean of air; we are actually on a planet. We have spent billions to go to the moon — we go to this lesser satellite called the moon and say we are in space, but we are in space right now; we just don't feel ourselves to be in space. Some forms of art and some forms of spirituality do give us that sense."
He also spoke of using light, something most people take for granted, as a material to make art, and emphasized that light can be seen as a thing, not merely as a phenomenon. When discussing the ideal viewer for his 'skyspaces,' Turrell took the opportunity to lament the minuscule amount of time viewers tend to spent with art these days, adding that he is not exempt from this accelerated culture.
"I feel my work is made for one being, one individual," he said. "You could say that's me, but that's not really true. It's for an idealized viewer. Sometimes I'm kind of cranky coming to see something. I saw the Mona Lisa when it was in L.A., saw it for 13 seconds and had to move on. But, you know, there's this slow-food movement right now. Maybe we could also have a slow-art movement, and take an hour."
http://www.artinfo.com/news/story/1365/in-their-words-james-turrell-and-andy-goldsworthy/, Accessed: June 11, 2011James Turrell