Rants and reactions to contemporary politics, art and culture.
Monday, April 17, 2017
Austin Journal: James Turrell's "Skyspace" and the Capitol
looking out of James Turrell's "Skyspace" (photograph by Hallie Cohen)
If you go to Austin, be sure not to miss the State Capitol
whose dramatic granite sheen frames the downtown skyline. Once inside visitors are
allowed into both the senate and the equally auspiciousrepresentatives chamber. And don't miss the portrait gallery where great names like LBJ, John Connally and Ann Richards are represented. Needless to say the
building with its carved wooden doorways and swirling rotunda dramatize the traditions of the Lone Star State. One could imagine Elia Kazan filming a Texas eye version of East of Eden in
such a auspicious venue. Only steps away on the campus of the University of
Texas you'll find the artist James Turrell’s "Skyspace." Here the elliptical shaped
architecture is transformed into a mixture of the
classic and the modern, in which an oculus like that in Rome's Pantheon opens out
into the heavens. Turrell might be looked at as a latter day Vermeer to the
extent that his whole project is an examination of the effects of light. Make a
reservation at sunset and you will find your notion of dusk totally
transformed. "Skyspace" is a little like Zeno’s paradox to the extent that it
proposes an almost infinite set of increments all demarcated by the spectroscopic
change of colors. The complexity is increased by the interplay of the outside
world and the changing hues that are produced inside the structure. At times you
look out of the oculus onto a blue sky, but as the evening progresses you may
find yourself at the event horizon of a black hole.
Francis Levy's debut novel, Erotomania: A Romance, was released in August 2008 by Two Dollar Radio.
His short stories, criticism, humor, and poetry have appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, The New Republic, The Village Voice, The East Hampton Star, The Quarterly, Penthouse, Architectural Digest, TV Guide, The Journal of Irreproducible Results, and other publications. One of his Voice humor pieces was anthologized in The Big Book of New American Humor (HarperCollins). He is presently the Co-Director of The Philoctetes Center for the Multidisciplinary Study of Imagination (philoctetes.org), where he supervises roundtable discussions on topics as varied as “The Psychology of the Modern Nation State” and “Modern Traffic Theory, Behavior, and Imagination”.