Lost in space
consciousness and experiment in the work of Irwin and Turrell
On several occasions during the years 1968–1971 artists Robert Irwin and James Turrell, an experimental psychologist named Ed Wortz, and a number of UCLA student volunteers spent hours depriving themselves of light, sound and human contact. They were engaged in a series of experiments involving an anechoic chamber used for psycho-physical experimentation by the Garrett Corporation, a contractor to the National Aeronautics and Space Agency (NASA). The interior of the chamber was soundproofed, suspended to minimize the effects of the earth's rotation and utterly darkened. Self-projected sounds like speech were deadened. Sitting in these reduced surroundings was exhausting; rather than depriving the subject of the senses of sight and hearing, the lack of focal markers proved to heighten them, causing the subject to strain his eyes and ears, searching for something upon which to focus his attention. Most startling were the effects upon leaving the chamber when the body re-adjusted to the overwhelming array of stimuli in daily life and the world became intensely bright, loud and noticeable.
Schuld, D. (2010)., Lost in space: consciousness and experiment in the work of Irwin and Turrell, in R. Frigg & M. C. Hunter (eds.), Beyond mimesis and convention, Dordrecht, Springer, pp. 221-244.
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