Joining the queue for James Turrell’s Red Shift at the Venice Bienniale, I didn’t honestly know what to expect. I had encountered Deer Shelter a multitude of times at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park, and the phrase that springs to mind in order to describe the experience is “an interactive installation”; although really, it’s a lot more than that. It’s a site specific work and also a place of refuge. Its purpose is to cause you to sit down to think and reflect, while the space engulfs you. Deer Shelter consumes your every thought: you sit with your head tilted back and look up at the square hole in the roof, bringing the outside in (and if you sit for a little while, realising how fast clouds move). If this was anything to go by, in addition to people’s enthusiasm of joining a 45 minute queue, this was most likely to be worth the wait.
His work draws attention to the process of seeing, and Turrell has, for more than 45 years, continued to explore the possibilities of using light as his primary subject. It is this choice of medium that allows him to investigate the medium of perception; exploring the variety of perceptual interventions, from deprivation of the senses to optical effects.
|Ready for Redshift|
Turrell has managed to create an emptiness filled with light, presenting us with its physicality. It seemed he employs light to illuminate the form and structure, setting the basis for a complete transformation of a space into a multisensory experience.