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Looking at the sky >> A magical experience in James Turrell’s “Skyspace” installation

James Turrell – Skyspace – Section

“Light is not so much something that reveals as it is the revelation.” James Turrell

The Color Inside is a milestone in The University of Texas at Austin’s Landmarks public art collection. Located on the roof of the Student Activity Center, the project arose from the student body’s desire for a peaceful retreat at the Student Activity Center (SAC).

As a result, internationally acclaimed artist James Turrell was commissioned to design a “Skyspace,” one of his renowned inhabitable artworks, in order to offer a space for quiet amidst the dynamic atmosphere of the SAC.

Turrell’s work challenges the traditional relationship between art as object and viewer. Through the manipulation of color and light, the installation radically alters the viewer’s perception of the sky, seemingly bringing it down to the plane of the viewer.

Tucked away on the rooftop of the SAC, the Skyspace remains partially hidden from view from the street below. Visitors make their way up to the third floor of the SAC, down a long corridor, and onto a boardwalk outside before the Skyspace is revealed. Once inside, visitors discover an elliptical space with radiantly heated, honed black basalt seating, basalt flooring, and a reclined plaster bench back that directs focus to an oculus in the ceiling above. Computer-controlled LED lights tucked within a light cove illuminate the “sensing space”—a plaster surface located above the viewing bench—with changing color during an hour-long program everyday at dawn and dusk. The space can comfortably accommodate 25 viewers at a time, offering an intimate yet communal experience.

Photos by: © Paul Bardagjy, Fernando Ortega,  Florian Holzherr

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