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James Turrell's work deals in the kind of optical phenomena that tests the boundaries of human perception. It plays with the physicality of light and reshapes how we experience the blurred lines between reality and unreality. In short, his work must be viewed first-hand to be understood.
Happily then, the Gagosian Gallery is offering 13 Wallpaper.com readers a chance for a close-up. At its forthcoming Turrell exhibition, one artwork will be seen exclusively by those who book in advance - scheduled slots will fill up fast - and by quick-off-the-mark Wallpaper.com readers.
Part of the 'Perceptual Cell' series, 'Bindu Shards' is a groundbreaking one-person experience, based on a spherical chamber entitled 'Gasworks' that Turrell built in 1993 at the Henry Moore Institute. As the American artist explains in our October issue (W*139), the chamber is designed so that viewers can be rolled inside - much as with an MRT scanner - deprived of sensory stimuli and blasted with light in order to experience 'behind the eye seeing'.
November 1st, when the gallery is closed to the public, is Wallpaper's day. Visitors to the 'Perceptual Cell' can expect to enter a fully immersive mini-structure which, for 20-minutes, will transport the viewer into a sensory virtual reality, achieved via lighting and monotone sound. The effect? We're told that the chamber will simulate conditions for total relaxation.
But for those fated not to be among the tranquilised few, Turrell will also show a major new Ganzfeld installation at the Gagosian exhibition, which will flood one of the gallery's rooms with light. The work is based on a phenomenon commonly experienced by mountaineers who, when caught in a snowstorm whiteout, cannot tell whether they are actually seeing something, or whether their mind is seeing it. 'It is quite something to realise we create the reality within which we live but are quite unaware of how we do it,' says Turrell. 'This gentle coercing to make you aware of this is a little bit of what I do.'
Turrell's ongoing exploration of human perception and its edges is conducted with the precision of a scientist, the lyricism of a poet and the zeal of a visionary. His structures set free the mind of the viewer to construct their own castles in the sky from an intense yet subtle light palette. Check back here soon for your chance to be transported.