The “Autonomous Structures” are projects defined by artist James Turrell as “just containers for the light; the art is in the experience of the viewer”.
In the 1970’s, Turrell began working on his most famous piece: the conversion of the Roden Crater, an extinct volcano in northern Arizona, into a naked-eye observatory.
The Autonomous Structures all originate from this first monumental project. Similarly to the crater’s chamber, each structure either host what Turrell defines “skyspaces” (openings toward the sky from a very small, enclosed space), or “ganzfeld” (fields of light which appear to dissolve the architectural space depth, its detail and color variations, to immerse the room in a mist of light).
The fifteen models of the “Autonomous Stuctures” have all been realised between 1989 and 2010 and visualise monuments of an out-of-time character, formal echoes of astral observatories of the past as well as monumental architectures of a Étienne-Louis Boullée or a Claude Nicolas Ledoux, while looking futuristic at the same time.
The Structures are intended as freestanding forms which would allow the desert light to reveal inside the space; they are types invented solely for the sake of experiencing light in a different form. Until today only four of these prototypes have been built in their real proportions.
James Turrell: Pace Gallery New York City
All images © James Turrell