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The Aura of the Beholder

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September 13, 1992|DENISE HAMILTON

Artist James Turrell's latest installation, which opens Wednesday at the Claremont Graduate School, is extraordinary for several reasons.

Turrell has designed a "celestial observatory" on the campus that takes advantage of waning and waxing light, and therefore works for two hours before sunrise and two hours after sunset only.

It isn't a passively examined piece of sculpture or artwork. What you get out of it depends on your perceptions, your moods and your willingness to give in to the quiet contemplative space.

Visitors step inside, sit or lie down, get comfortable and watch the interplay of natural light and the observatory's pale halogen lighting as twilight or dawn deepens.

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Turrell's pieces "powerfully manipulate light and space so that our minds falter and collapse, so that we look not so much at the sky as at our own looking," said Richard Smith, a contributing editor to Artweek who also teaches at the Claremont Graduate School.

Viewings of Turrell's Light/Sky installation are by appointment only beginning Wednesday through Dec. 18. For information, call (714) 621-8071, Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to noon.

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