Robert Hughes: “Turrell’s art is not in front of your eyes. It is behind them.”
After buying the crater and the pastureland around it in 1974, Turrell designed a system of rooms, connecting passageways, and lookout points for Roden Crater. The crater stands more than 5000 feet above sea level and is within sight of the Grand Canyon and Painted Desert. Its final eruption is believed to have occurred just over 900 years ago. It stands on a volcanic field with more than 200 other extinct volcanoes nearby. Turrell once said, “It has knowledge in it and it does something with that knowledge.”
Scraping the Crater Bowl, 1982
It is about 50 miles NE of Flagstaff. It sits off to itself on the eastern edge of the San Francisco plateau. The most ancient lavas in the area are 10 million years old. The fields most recent eruption occurred at Sunset Crater, located 15 miles west of Roden Crater only 920 years ago.
James Turrell, Finished Crater Topo, 1985
"Among the phenomena visitors will be able to observe are the movement of the North Star, the details of the moon via a pinhole camera, and even the light of Jupiter. The music of the spheres, sounds from deep space, will be heard via a pool of water that picks up signals from quasars and distant galaxies."
Turrell in the bowl of the crater, c. 1980s
View from the Crater Dish, 1981
Roden Crater, Aerial View, 1989