Camp Austin360: An artful mid-summer night’s sky viewing

Here’s an artful option: Why not see the summer sunset in sublime color at the Turrell skyspace?

Tucked on top of a University of Texas building, a sleek curvilinear roofless chamber is James Turrell’s “The Color Inside,” one of the famed artist’s “skyspaces” — a radically reimagined observatory for creative contemplation of the sky.

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At sunset, an hourlong sequence of slowly changing colored LED lights illuminate the inside walls, radically yet subtly altering your perception of the heavens.

Over the course of an hour, the colors shift, saturating the space with intense and varying shades of purple, green, yellow, pink, blue. And through the aperture in the ceiling, a remarkable visual phenomena happens. The sky appears in complementary hues. Walls awash in blue make the sky look yellow. A flush of pink turns the sky green.

A recipient of the MacArthur Foundation “genius” grant, Turrell is a pioneer in the use of light as an artistic medium.

In naming “The Color Inside,” Turrell said: “I was thinking about what you see inside, and inside the sky, and what the sky holds within it that we don’t see the possibility of in our regular life.”

Commissioned by UT’s public art program, Landmarks, “The Color Inside” is a permanent work of art, one of several daring pieces added to the campus.

 

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“The Color Inside” is open every day that the UT Student Activity Building is open. Start time for the evening light sequence changes daily. And if you can’t make the evening light sequence you can visit anyway. Turrell’s

Admission free but with seating limited to 25 people, reservations are recommended. turrell.utexas.edu

 

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And be sure to check out our guides to Austin’s museums and galleries

 

 

Author: Jeanne Claire van Ryzin

Jeanne Claire van Ryzin is the arts critic for the Austin American-Statesman. She writes about visual art, theater, dance, music, performance, public art, architecture and just about any combination thereof.

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