BY JOHN NOVA LOMAX
Tucked into the concrete structure of James Turrell’s soaring Skyspace is an acoustic system that Rice student composers are using to explore the interplay of sound and light.
Architecture is frozen music, and music is liquid architecture, or so said the poet Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. It’s hard not to see the truth in those analogies at artist James Turrell’s “Twilight Epiphany” Skyspace.
Its 72-foot-square white roof seems to float above a grassy hill that calls to mind a low-slung Mayan temple. Inside the berm, a cozy room lined with pink granite benches invites visitors to ponder the heavens through an opening, or aperture, in the ceiling. The whole effect is best experienced in the morning or evening twilight. That’s when an LED-light sequence created by Turrell projects colorful hues onto the ceiling, dragging the sky to earth. The goal, in Turrell’s own words, is “to create an experience of wordless thought.”
And now, on occasion, an experience of sound. Thanks to Turrell, Shepherd School Dean Robert Yekovich and Kurt Stallmann, associate professor of music composition and theory, Turrell’s 73rd Skyspace is the first of his structures to feature a fully integrated sound system.
This story is featured in the winter 2015 issue of Rice Magazine. To read the rest of the story and see other stories, visit: https://ricemagazine.creatavist.com/sightandsound.