James illusions are likely to have been heavily


James Turrell’s Skyspaces could be described as a modern, abstract equivalent of a
trompe-l’oeil painting. Consisting of a small aperture cut out of the ceiling,
the immediate view of the open sky is not one of illusion. ‘Skyspaces can be autonomous structures or
integrated into existing architecture. The aperture can be round, ovular or square’
(Turrell, 2017, A). Turrell’s work is a combination of space, light and
nothingness: ‘My work has no object, no image and no focus. With no object, no
image and no focus, what are you looking at? You are looking at you looking.
What is important to me is to create an experience of wordless thought’
(Turrell, 2017, B). The work is a literal example of Schmarsow’s theory, as the
‘spatial limits’ of the original ceiling have been ‘pushed out’ through the
ceiling’s aperture ‘to such a ‘distance’ that the viewer is stimulated to think
of the open space’s infinity and immeasurability’, through Turrell’s intended
‘experience of wordless thought’. Therefore, through creating this aperture in
the ceiling of a space and altering an architectural structure so that it
becomes a work of art, Turrell is playing with the viewer’s perception of space,
depth and distance. He achieves this by providing us with an uninterrupted
space between the architectural interior and the exterior. As a result of this,
the spatial limitations of architecture are defeated as the viewer senses the
infinite space that we cannot see through the surrounding walls. Jiri Svestka
explains this successfully when she states that ‘the existing spatial
constrictions dissolve in infinity, and immediate reality becomes secondary in
importance’ (1992, p. 5). For Svestka, it is this contemplation of infinite
space that is central to Turrell’s work and for Turrell, these illusions are
likely to have been heavily influenced by his personal experiences of
confinement during the Vietnam War: 

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