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A creative blog by Arthur Kegerreis on The Whole 9

Arthur Kegerreis – aka Liberal Art, aka Himat Singh – is interested in way too many things, although curiosity has not killed this cat yet. In LA for 14 years now, he has lived in NYC; VT; Amherst, MA; Santa Fe; Madison, WI; and grew up on Long Island. Arthur has been a cabinetmaker, guitar maker, Kundalini Yoga Teacher, Pilates instructor, graphic designer, composer, and playwright, though he now spends most of his time taking photos, writing songs, making video art, and building websites. Having fought his night-owlish tendencies all his life, he is fascinated by the creative process, so jump in and talk shop into the wee hours…or not.

Turrellian Realm Part 2: Mondrian Hotel

When I first started looking into Turrell’s work, I was intrigued to discover that he’d contributed work to the Mondrian Hotel on the trendy Sunset Strip. I decided I’d take a little jaunt to the place to get a look at the works myself. I wasn’t overwhelmed by the works, however. They seem to me somewhat derivative, reminiscent of a whole slew of video works from the early 80’s by Nam June Paik and others I’d seen and helped install at the UNM Albuquerque video art show in 1983 by Robert Gaylor and Gary HIll. Bob Gaylor’s piece focused on the moody character of homes illuminated by their TV sets, and the character of that light as seen from the street. Hill’s installation at that show had two rows of monitors facing each other, each displaying a different color, that used a custom computer program to randomly change the hues as you walked between them.

In a podcast for the National Gallery, Turrell alluded to the problems encountered during the project. He was originally going to collaborate with famed designer/architect Philippe Starck on the lighting for this West Hollywood Hotel. Once the project was underway, Starck ran off with a model he met there, (if I’m not mistaken, Cindy Crawford’s husband Rande Gerber runs the nightclub in the hotel) and after six months Turrell completed the project himself.

It’s not clear who the model was, or where it fell in the chronology of Starck’s personal life. The designer, who may have designed the mouse in your hand, has designed about everything under the sun, including the offices of French President Mitterand. His daughter Ara, apparently a successful artist herself, told The Telegraph that her mother died when she was 14 of breast cancer, and her father recently married his fourth wife. ‘But my father loves to be married,’ she says happily. ‘He sees it all as such fun. He loves to have children. Anyway, he’s been faithful to all his wives. He was with my mother for 22 years.’

Starck claims on his website that he, “designs his hotels and restaurants in the same way a director makes a film, developing scenarios that will lift people out of the everyday and into an imaginative and creative mental world.” Indeed. Welcome to West Hollywood. I wasn’t sure if the steep price tag of a room there would transport me into Blue Velvet, Pulp Fiction, or Driving Miss Daisy, but the lobby’s fragrant synthetic carpets alluded more to Best Western than west of Crescent Heights. A google search for Piet Mondrian’s last name today will lead to more results for the hotel than the artist.

On each floor in the elevator lobby of the Mondrian is a small television-shaped aperture, with a translucent screen. Each floor’s aperture is lit by a television on the floor behind it, tuned to a different station. The claim is that each network broadcasts its own unique range of colors.

During my excursion, I shot short clips of the works on each floor, never expecting even to upload them to YouTube. This composite video allows you to compare the images of all twelve floor’s works to decide for yourself if each station has its own unique color range. (It’s a rather large Flash file (15 MB) and may take a couple of minutes to load.)

This high-profile project opened the door for Turrell’s involvement on the night lighting for the landmark Pont du Gard Roman Aqueduct near Nimes, France.


(Click for image source info and more wonderful pics by the photographer)

That exposure from that project subsequently led to extensive plans for a project along the Thames River in London, lighting the bridge and river banks. Unfortunately, the Thames project was ultimately scrapped:
“…the uncompleted and now abandoned Thames Light Project, a £3 million scheme to create a work of light art within 500 metres of the River Thames, London’s own Heart of Darkness. This would have defined the area by highlighting river frontages and landmark architectural features. The Square of Light would have linked buildings on both banks of the river from Somerset House, across Waterloo Bridge to the South Bank Centre site, encompassing Jubilee Gardens and the Royal National Theatre. Turrell’s idea was to choreograph an integrated lighting scheme installed in the water, under bridges, and on tops of buildings to be seen by aircraft passengers.”

Turrell’s earlier work with LACMA’s Art & Technology program led to a variety of pieces that explored the more personal nature of light perception and our environment. Some of these looked like salon hair dryer helmets, others were beds you would lie on, as you were slid into a light environment. He has described how man has used light to create an illusion of safety within his environment, and in the process, alienated himself from it. The architectural illuminations described in this post perhaps exist to traverse the territory between these more personal projects, and those which enthrall me, his Skyspaces. My favorite Turrell work that I’ve yet experienced is his Skyspace at Pomona College. His skyspaces strive to bring the sky down to the viewer, and of these, the ultimate epic work for Turrell is Roden Crater, an extinct volcano near Flagstaff, Arizona, that he has been gradually honing into an architectural calendar and camera obscura on the scale of the great pyramids. More on these next….

  1. Bob Gaylor stumbled upon this post and gave me a little update: the work I referred to is called “Suspension of Disbelief, 10 PM.” This link to his website has an image and description: http://www.robertgaylor.net/#!Suspension-of-Disbelief-10-PM/zoom/c16qd/image3iz
    Well, confound it! WordPress is doing everything in it’s power to prevent me from either linking to the jQuery overlay pic for the work or posting a screenshot. It’s in the “Work before 1987″ section; there’s an image of several homes with picket fences in front of them.

    Take a look through his projects! He worked with Turrell on the reflection holograms included in the 2014 LACMA show.

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