Highsnobiety

In a newly revisited interview with Art21, pioneering art and space artist James Turrell reflects on his career-long desire to harness the power of light.

Since 2013, when the interview was filmed, Turrell gained an ardent fan in Kanye West. Today, the artist's reflections on light and art offer remarkable insights into how his ideas may have informed West's own practice.

Over the last two years, West has described Turrell's land art as "life-changing" and even donated $10 million to Turrell's Roden Crater, constructed on top of a dormant volcano in Arizona.

In the interview below, Turrell reflects on why he devoted his life to helping viewers understand and appreciate light as something valuable, on par with gold or silver.

Watch the full video below and scroll down to see how his ideas have hugely influenced West's projects, including Jesus Is King film, his "pinhole" Coachella film, and the visual language of his Sunday Service.

Your Highsnobiety privacy settings have blocked this YouTube video.

"To Value Light As We Value Gold, Paintings, Objects"

Turrell explains that "you don't normally look at light, we're generally looking at something light reveals." Through his immersive pieces, he wanted people to "come to value light."

In 2018, West toured Turrell's Mass MoCA exhibit, "Into the Light," is a 25-year retrospective consisting of several pieces using the immersion in and absence of light. The two reportedly spoke extensively within the two-story "Perfectly Clear" installation space.

Your Highsnobiety privacy settings have blocked this Twitter post.

In the subsequent months, many of West's most elaborate Sunday Services were bathed in red and blue light that evoked Turrell's oeuvre. Here, light is not so much a way of seeing, as it is an art object in and of itself.

Your Highsnobiety privacy settings have blocked this YouTube video.

"I Want to Bring the Sky Down"

In the video, Turrell contemplates the sky in his work "Second Meeting," which was originally installed at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles in 1986. “I want to bring the space of the sky down to the top of the space you’re in so that you really feel at the bottom of the ocean of air,” he explains.

Your Highsnobiety privacy settings have blocked this Twitter post.

In his Roden Crater, Turrell employs the logic of a pin-hole camera to observe celestial events from the earth. West borrowed this effect for his 2019 Coachella performance.

Your Highsnobiety privacy settings have blocked this Twitter post.

Both Turrell and West are concerned with accessibility. “There are very few religious or spiritual experiences that people don’t use the vocabulary of light to describe,” explains Turrell, and by bringing the sky down, he is bringing a spiritual experience closer to the viewer. It could be argued that West's Sunday Servies do the same thing.

“We Do Create the Reality in Which We Live.”

Turrell suggests that we're attached to the idea that we receive perceptions rather than creating them. "Basically, we feel, when we look at the sky, that we receive this blue, this color," Turrell explains, focusing on how artists use the surroundings or context of the area to intensify color.

West employs this technique at the beginning of this Jesus Is King. The screen opens up in the darkness of the Roden Crater’s East Tunnel, darkness ringed with bright bright receding arches, and the camera moves forward until it opens up into a white space. West achieves this celestially bright climax precisely because of the relative darkness of the initial shot.

Your Highsnobiety privacy settings have blocked this YouTube video.
We Recommend
  • Mike Tyson wearing Timberland
    How the Timberland Boot Became an Icon of Hip-Hop Style And Beyond
    • Style
  • north west style outfits
    Simply Put, North West Is Ye's Style Successor
    • Style
  • kanye pastelle relaunch
    Pastelle, the Original Kanye Brand, Is Back
    • Style
  • Ozzy Osbourne & wife Sharon dressed as Kanye West & Bianca Censori for Halloween
    Ozzy Osbourne's Kanye Cosplay Is Insane & Amazing
    • Style
  • north west kanye outfits
    Of Course North West Wins at Kanye-Themed Halloween Costumes
    • Style
  • Image on Highsnobiety
What To Read Next
  • Merrell 1TRL SS24 sneaker collection
    True Trail Shoe Innovation? Only Merrell 1TRL
    • Sneakers
  • A model at Moschino's runway show holds a baguette-shaped handbag
    Fashion Isn't Starved for Food-Shaped Bags
    • Style
  • HOKA's Tor Ultra Low sneaker in a green and white colorway
    HOKA's Best, Chunkiest Shoe Don't Need No Classic Colorways
    • Sneakers
  • balenciaga reptile sneaker
    Balenciaga's Wicked New Sneaker Is a Dress Shoe for Runners
    • Sneakers
  • nike air max day 2024 sneaker
    Nike's 2024 Air Max Day Sneaker Is Bright AF
    • Sneakers
  • highsnobiety squarespace not in london
    Highsnobiety and Squarespace Talk the Business of Creativity for Not In London
    • Lifestyle
    • sponsored
*If you submitted your e-mail address and placed an order, we may use your e-mail address to inform you regularly about similar products without prior explicit consent. You can object to the use of your e-mail address for this purpose at any time without incurring any costs other than the transmission costs according to the basic tariffs. Each newsletter contains an unsubscribe link. Alternatively, you can object to receiving the newsletter at any time by sending an e-mail to info@highsnobiety.com

Web Accessibility Statement

Titel Media GmbH (Highsnobiety), is committed to facilitating and improving the accessibility and usability of its Website, www.highsnobiety.com. Titel Media GmbH strives to ensure that its Website services and content are accessible to persons with disabilities including users of screen reader technology. To accomplish this, Titel Media GmbH tests, remediates and maintains the Website in-line with the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG), which also bring the Website into conformance with the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990.

Disclaimer

Please be aware that our efforts to maintain accessibility and usability are ongoing. While we strive to make the Website as accessible as possible some issues can be encountered by different assistive technology as the range of assistive technology is wide and varied.

Contact Us

If, at any time, you have specific questions or concerns about the accessibility of any particular webpage on this Website, please contact us at accessibility@highsnobiety.com, +49 (0)30 235 908 500. If you do encounter an accessibility issue, please be sure to specify the web page and nature of the issue in your email and/or phone call, and we will make all reasonable efforts to make that page or the information contained therein accessible for you.