Los Angeles County Museum of Art

Perceptual Cell Returns to LACMA

Artist James Turrell's color-saturated journey, meant for a single user at a time, is back on the Miracle Mile.

Snagging the hottest ticket in town often involves some detailed coordination with your friends. Who will get the tickets, who will line up at the box office, and who is in charge of planning the big night out are just some of the i's needing dotting, as you work the whole deal out.

But a few years ago our city's hottest ticket wasn't about gathering up your pals for the mondo event; rather, it focused solely on a single person, at any one time, for a singular journey created for a singular individual.

Artist James Turrell enjoyed a large and light-washed retrospective at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art in 2013 and 2014, and one of the talked-about pieces in the talked-about experience was the globe-shaped Perceptual Cell. 

What's a Perceptual Cell? It's a small, round room, or "spherical chamber," that the participant is slid into, while on their back. After a moment of darkness an 11-minute light spectacular begins.

The ending of "2001: A Space Odyssey" springs to mind for easy comparison, but there's no comparing the decades of work Mr. Turrell has done in the field of illumination, psychology, and how we interpret and react to different hues and saturations.

Light Reignfall, one of Mr. Turrell's Perceptual Cell, is about to start its yearlong stay at LACMA, beginning on Sunday, May 29.

Closing date? A year, exactly: May 29, 2017.

This is a ticketed experience, which shouldn't surprise, as it can only accommodate one person at a time. When the Perceptual Cell was here a few years ago, slots booked up months in advance.

How to tell if you'll like it? You are in a small space for just over 10 minutes, but loads of light and color seem to expand it, at least for some viewers.

Here's a test: If you're the sort of person who pauses to see sunlight dapple through trees, or how stained glass from a building changes the look of the sidewalk below, a journey inside Light Reignfall could be just your thing.

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