American artist James Turrell’s new retrospective at the National Gallery of Australia in Canberra includes projections, holograms, drawings, prints and photographs as well as 10 light installations, two featuring advanced lighting control systems created by Three Bye Intermedia, Inc, a studio focusing on interactive AV solutions.
“James Turrell: A Retrospective,” which runs from December 13-June 8, 2015, follows three retrospectives in Houston, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and the Guggenheim in New York. Acclaimed as a leader in global contemporary light art, Turrell has told visitors to his shows, “I put you in a situation where you feel the physicality of light.”
That’s certainly true of the installations, “Bindu Shards,” part of Turrell’s Perceptual Cells series, and “Virtuality Squared,” from his Ganzfeld series. “Bindu Shards” has been acquired by the National Gallery of Australia, along with five other major Turrell works.
“Bindu Shards” is designed to induce the drifting off state of mind that occurs in the early stages of meditation. A one-person sensory experience, it requires the viewer to ride a roller bed into a sphere-shaped structure, 12 feet in diameter, reminiscent of an MRI machine. The viewer wears headphones and looks up into a white hemisphere. The sphere is then illuminated with color- changing, pulsating LED lights.
“Three Byte software executes a program of binaural audio streams that induce beating between the left and right sides of the stereo headphones,” says Olaaf Rossi, Three Byte’s project manager. “It is absolutely critical that the lights and sound be generated from the same timing source – a feature that no existing system could support. We spent months developing the software to ensure that the lights are precisely timed to strobe synchronously with the audio beats, which are extremely important to the intensity of the perceived experience.”
Different programs, lasting between 11 and 37 minutes, alternate frequencies that emulate the neural oscillations occurring during different periods of the human sleep cycle. Although the experience is unique to each viewer and can be unsettling to some, most report it as being meditative allowing them to lose their sense of time and space.
“Virtuality Squared” replicates a whiteout phenomenon in which viewers experience a complete loss of depth perception. It features an inclined floor, precisely-constructed apertures and LED lights. What appears at first to be a flat projection is, in fact, a big room that engulfs viewers in a seemingly unending expanse of color. As the color shifts, perception compensates and static light is suddenly not static at all.
“Three Byte’s special-purpose lighting control software was developed specifically for James to allow him and his studio to easily experiment with new effects and experiences in every installation, each of which is unique to the location,” explains Rossi. “Our software supports timeline-based, 16-bit DMX control for up to 8 universes with particular attention to insert/edit capability along with increased low-light level precision controls and a custom tactile lighting control board.”
About Three Bye Intermedia
Three Byte Intermedia (
) specializes in the design and implementation of innovative software solutions for interactive installations. It offers custom software development, show control systems design and development, architectural design support, and systems engineering. For more information, visit