Light and perception in aviation with James Turrell

Conceptual work
Realisation partly, August 2002, MMK – Museum of Modern Art, Frankfurt am Main and Airport Gallery Frankfurt, Frankfurt am  Main.  Gallery>>

The invention of flight fundamentally altered our concept of time and space. In order to conquer the heavens, it was necessary to reduce time and space to mere mathematics: to parcel out, to measure, to rule and to draw. The largest distances can now be overcome by a simple change of time zones. Planet Earth has shrunk to the size of a small ball, on which we can now watch the sunrise several times over in different locations on the same day. The endless infinity of space and existence has been shrunk to domestic proportions, and humankind’s beautiful dream of flight has become mundane in its realisation. Rather than seeking to aspire to divinity, we now enter the sphere of the Gods above the clouds simply to reduce the time spent in reaching our destination. In gaining this faculty, we risk losing our sense of ourselves as part of the universe. Without a sense of infinity, we inevitably lack a sense of our place in the world.

Light generates the dimensions of time and space. This gave me the idea to design a concept in collaboration with the renowned American artist James Turrell and to exhibit some of his works in the gallery at Frankfurt Airport. His delicate light works are inspired by his experiences as a cartographer and a passionate pilot. For the realisation of his main life’s work, the artistic transformation of the Roden volcanic crater in the Arizona desert, Turrell draws on his own experience. The view from above looking down onto a fragmented world is important for our perception as we reverse this gaze in looking from the inner caverns of the crater to the cosmos above. In the act of perception, Turrell projects the vastness of the universe back onto the observer, who recognises him/herself to be part of a wider whole.

It is precisely this act of self-recognition that is a central component of my artistic concept. The main focus of this exhibition is to sensitise the viewer’s perception with the aid of interactive installations.

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