“Afrum (White)” James Turrell, 1966

Projected Light

Yes, light. Turrell’s manipulation with light and projection is extremely deceptive. Appearing to be a fully formed floating cube, Afrum quickly dissolves into a phantom light source as the viewer nears closer to it.

“In working with light, what is really important to me is to create an experience of wordless thought, to make the quality and sensation of light itself something really quite tactile. Intangible, yet physically felt. Often people reach out and try to touch.”

I love his phrasing: ‘working’ with light. It attributes substance, tactility, and a solidarity in sources of emotion. When thinking about light, not just the fact that it alleviates darkness, but the way it gives warmth, blurs on the ocean, beams in hazy afternoons, muffles the grey landscape, flickers over echoed streets. Here, it brings calm. Quiet.

Turrell shows how light can permeate more than the darkness but also our emotion, our chaos and our noise. It gives strength to what we cannot touch, to how we feel, to how we respond to ourselves in the quiet.