On Roden Crater


Roden Crater is James Turrell’s largest artwork, which was built from an extinct volcano that Turrell has bought in 1977. As is described on its official website, “Roden Crater is a gateway to observe light, time, and space” (rodencrater.com).

Standing in the crater, the viewer would see the strong light cast on the ground or the wall from the hole. It is so intense that I cannot help staring at it. After staring at it for a long time, my eyes get blind because of its brightness, so the only thing I can see is the strong light and the sky, everything else dark and black. It is as if the space disappears, but at the same time, it is as if the space is infinite.

The light goes around throughout the day, which is almost like a sundial, indicating the time of the day. It is such a new experience of time and light. The viewer experiences the time by the movement of the light. Each part of the inner space is “spotlighted” at different time so that the viewers’ attention is also drawn to different part and direction depending on the time they enter the crater.

Looking up through the hole, there might be clouds floating, so the view is constantly changing. From different angle, the viewers would be able to see different part of the sky. The viewers can even observe sun, moon and stars so that the whole sky has become part of the artwork, and the space of the artwork has really reached the unlimitedness.

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