Incredible, ethereal, and expensive - those are all fitting words to describe James Turrell's desert observatory. Nestled inside the Roden Crater in the Painted Desert region of Northern Arizona, the project is several years in the making, requiring precise measurements in order to align the desired visuals with the angles of the constructed vantage points. Turrell is essentially turning this dormant volcanic crater into an observatory, or what he calls a “gateway to observe light, time, and space.”
The spirit of the installation is in the vein of American landscape art that began in the 1960s, with no modern twists. Turrell has carefully planned and crafted a space in which visitors can observe cycles of geologic and celestial time. The artist has been working on the site since he first obtained it in 1977, and construction is still ongoing.
Once complete, the installation will include 21 viewing spaces and six tunnels. There’s been no word on when – if ever – the installation will be open to the general public. Until then, enjoy the amazing photographs, as well as the interactive map on the project’s website.
Images via Florian Holzherr