This work continues James Turrell’s significant series of Ganzfelds, room-sized installations in which light itself—the very thing we see—is the object of the artwork. The term ganzfeld, literally translating from German as “complete field,” describes the phenomenon of perceptual overload.
The title AKHU is borrowed from ancient Egypt, where it was believed that beings were made up of both physical and spiritual embodiments. The concept of “akhu” belongs to the latter. Beyond an exploration into perception—the act of seeing—the artwork can be understood from this dual perspective. We are transported to the limits of our consciousness, and as our perception of the light evolves, we experience a state in which time and seeing become intangible conditions, no longer connected to a finite object or space.
Beginning his art career in the 1960s, James Turrell’s work is primarily an exploration of light and space. By making light the subject of the revelation, Turrell’s work challenges the very nature of how and what is perceived and, in particular, how what is perceived affects and forms the reality lived. One part meditative and another confounding, Turrell’s works heighten the viewer’s very sense of seeing and place the viewer in a realm of experience.
Residing in Flagstaff, Turrell is working on Roden Crater, an artwork of unprecedented scale within a volcanic cinder cone in the Painted Desert region of Northern Arizona. Representing the culmination of the artist’s lifelong research in the field of human visual and psychological perception, Roden Crater is Turrell’s magnum opus. It is a work that, in addition to being a monument to land art, functions as a naked-eye observatory of celestial and planetary events.