Culture Collage: James Turrell x Phillip Low August 05 2013, 0 Comments

Light in its many forms plays a dominant role in the culture and commerce of a city like Los Angeles, where artist James Turrell’s work has been recently exhibited. But we’ve found his volumetric structuring of light to be succinctly represented in the work of sculptor Phillip Low, an artist whose curious gems can be added to an interior to elicit a similar feel.

With recent openings at LACMA, the Guggenheim and the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston, Turrell, who describes his work as “an experience of wordless thought,” invites viewers to his grand-scale environments where geometric light projections and negative spaces meld to create a dramatic distortion of space perception. Influenced by celestial bodies, Turrell recreates the otherworldly, out-of-body sensations that come from immersing oneself in expansive skies, eclipses and lunar cycles. While beautiful, these spaces oftentimes leave the viewer with no choice but to succumb to the shifting environment around them.

On a smaller scale, the work of Phillip Low is a James Turrell spatial phenomenon synthesized into condensed hand-held form, an exquisite object that allows one control over their space rather than surrender. Emitting light from various angles and playing upon planar distortion, Low’s acrylic sculptures transmit light and color through uniquely tactile means.


There is an inverse method of light projection that both artists employ to create or add to an environment. Using precisely constructed angles to manipulate light, Turrel’s work utilizes this technique from the outside in, bringing light into a physical space, whether a corner of a room or a blank wall, to create the illusion of a physical object. Low’s work brings light from the inside out, utilizing precisely constructed angles within the physical object itself to throw light around a space.

Light as a medium has the ability to subtly shift moods or completely disrupt spatial perceptions, whether encapsulated in a physical object or as the center point of an entire environment. Turrell and Low are able to transport a viewer to a space outside themselves using geometry and color as a vehicle to achieve an impossible state – light occupying a physical space.