eTouch for Health
James Turrell and Roden Crater Introduction

James Turrell is one of the world's greatest living artists. Mention his name within art circles and there is generally a recognition of his name and his works. Outside of the international art community, Turrell is only known to a few. This artist of light, perception and spaces has created some of the world's most interesting art. Mention the word 'art' and most people think of a painting that hangs on a wall. Turrell's works are not of this nature and are usually spaces filled with light in such a way that you question the source of the light and your perceptions of what you are seeing.

The Roden Crater project is Turrell's most ambitious project and is being constructed in a dormant volcano in the Painted Desert of northern Arizona, northeast of Flagstaff. Turrell purchased the land with grants from the Guggenheim Foundation, the Dia Art Foundation and others. He is transforming Roden Crater into a space whose art is as much in the light of space and objects as it is in the spaces created in the crater. It will be your perceptions and interactions with the space and the ever-changing nature of light created by the light of the sun, moon, stars and other celestial events that will drive the art. Much like other civilizations throughout history that have built large structures that embody knowledge... scientific, cultural and spiritual, so will the Roden Crater project.

James Turrell

James Turrell

This web site does not attempt to fully interpret Turrell's works, but presents one year in the struggle by Turrell to create this monumental piece at Roden Crater. I leave it to Turrell, himself, and others in the art community to interpret and explain the many dimensions of the genius and vision of the artist. I have created a page for Turrell-related web sites that provide links to other web sites around the world that focus on the past and present works of Turrell. The first link is to the official James Turrell website. Roden Crater web site (recomissioned Dec. 2010) should be visited to read Turrell's own words as he describes his mission at Roden Crater.

The inside of the windsock
at the Roden Crater airstrip

1978 was a brief, but challenging time in the life of the project. Turrell had been working on the project since 1972 and it has been described as a 'lifetime project' by some. When I was there in 1978, expectations were that the project could be completed in 2-3 years. Major construction finally began in 1999 and continues to this day. No date for completion has been set and the project is not open to the public at this time. (Please do not try to visit the crater, at this time!).

In 1978 as Michael Yost, the project manager, and I walked through the crater with Turrell, Jim explained the concepts of light and how the crater and volcano would be transformed into an art piece. While Jim was talking, it was easy to visualize the crater in its completed state and performing in powerful ways that I had never imagined. At that time, seeing the work completed in several years seemed possible and I couldn't wait to see it start happening. Seeing Jim struggle to find funding was disheartening. A statement that Jim made over 20 years ago seems prophetic of his own situation.

Roden Crater

Jim said that the Europeans were emptying their closets of dusty old Renaissance art and selling it to the American collectors who were mostly ignoring the great work being created by their own living and immensely talented American artists. So, the Europeans have been the primary supporters of American art. When you see where many of Jim's shows and permanent pieces are located... Ireland, The Netherlands, Italy, France, Germany, Japan and Austria, his statement rings true. Hardly any Americans know the name of James Turrell or have heard of the Roden Crater project. Hopefully, this web site will help to change that so that both Turrell and the Roden Crater project get the attention and support they deserve.

I have chosen the photo at the right to represent my time on the project. The agave cactus that is shown is commonly know as the 'Century Plant' because folklore says that it blooms only once in a century. When it does bloom, it sends a shoot 10-15 feet into the air, blossoms with beautiful flowers and then dies. 1978 seemed to be that kind of year. So full of hope, so much beauty and then so many setbacks. Setbacks yes, but death no. The message is too powerful, the medium too resilient and this artist too persistent to be stopped.

Century Plant

American Agave

I left the project with wonderful new inspirations and memories which still drive me today. If I look back at one moment when I felt that I had an understanding of what Jim was attempting to create, it was in a flight to California with Jim piloting accompanied by his family, my wife and myself.

We left the Flagstaff airport just before sunrise in the clear desert air. As we reached altitude, we faced the huge full moon sitting on the horizon directly in front of us. Jim began to make the plane circle and when we were 180 degrees around, we were facing the brilliant rising sun as it rested on the other horizon. Jim continued to circle as the images of the sun and moon continued to appear in a rotating pattern of bright hotness and cool reflection. After several revolutions, Jim straightened the plane and never said a word about it. He didn't have to. I sat there awestruck the rest of the way to California.

That one moment showed me the tremendous beauty in the nature of light, our solar system and our own small earth in this immensity. I think that is the power of Jim's work. You can't own it or carry it with you. It absorbs you and you are transformed in positive ways. Maybe not on the spot, but you will be.

William Earl Cook

Earl Cook has worked in the microcomputer industry since 1980. He is currently the President /CEO of Laser Solutions, Inc., a consulting and software development firm he founded in 1986. As a software developer, Earl has created mission-critical custom software applications for many of the top organizations in the Atlanta, Georgia area. He helped found the Atlanta Desktop Publishers Association and was its first president. Earl and his wife Gail recently released eTouch for Health a holistic energy balancing kinesiology system.

January 7, 2010

A collage of northern
Arizona sunsets.