It was the most surreal yet amazing experience I have ever had! This was how I felt after I came out from Bindu Shards– one of the latest pieces of work by the brilliant light artist James Turrell at the Gagosian Gallery in London.
After walking through a dark corridor, I was greeted by a lady in a white laboratory coat, standing under the shadow of a gigantic white metal sphere and its platform. After confirming my identity, I was asked to sign a form to confirm that I do not have epilepsy and nor am I pregnant- it sounded like I was about to experience something dramatic! I was also asked if I would like it ‘soft’ or ‘hard’ as if I was going to have an egg! Apparently it was to do with the intensity of the experience. ‘Since you are confident, I suggest you go for hard’, the lady said. ‘Ok! Hard it is!’ I answered with great anticipation.
After taking my coat and shoes off, I was ‘wheeled’ into the sphere on a ‘bed’- exactly like when I had my MRI scan, including the part when I was given a headphone to wear and a panic button to get out if I felt claustrophobic half way. ‘I need a panic button to see an art installation?’ I thought. The whole build-up was exciting but also a little spooky! Strangely, she suggested that I take off my glasses as I would have a better experience. ‘I do not need my glasses in order to “see” an installation?’ I was intrigued.
Even though I was aware of that fact that technically I was lying down, looking up to the inside of hemisphere, I felt that I was engulfed by blueness. There was no beginning and no end. The lady was right about no glasses as my vision would have been framed by them unnecessarily. A lot of dark patterns started to emerge first slowly then very quickly in different rhythms. I felt a bit unease and for a split second, I started to worry what if I actually had epilepsy without knowing it? Before I managed to finish this question in my head, I noticed that tears started to drop alongside my face. I suddenly realised I have not blinked for a while! I started ‘seeing’ a lot of colours appearing, one after another: green, yellow, pink, red, orange……. I said ‘seeing’ because by then I was not sure if I owed my eyes. I could not tell if my eyes were open or closed at all. It was a surreal sensation.
For 15 minutes, I was in a theatre performance of light, created in my head. It was hard to explain how it has happened but surely what happened was dramatic and remarkable. Bindu Shards was a masterpiece created by Turrell, based on his interests on “behind-the-eyes” seeing started over 40 years ago, when he was in university. It is part of the Perceptual Cells series which, according to Gagoisan Gallery, is created to stimulate ‘an experience in which there is no object of perception; the light which is presented is light “not seen.” This produces the “Purkinje effect,” a transitional patterning that is perceived uniquely during the transition from light to dark,’ I cannot recommend more.
Bindu Shards, together with 3 other pieces of Turrell, are open to the public until 10 December. So Hurry! Bindu Shards can only be experienced by appointment. If you do not have an appointment, do not despair. You can still try going to the gallery early in the morning to wait for cancellation (and trust me it is worth the wait!). The guy who saw it after me did exactly just that to get his place. So there is still hope!
Good luck and enjoy!Gagosian Gallery
6-24 Britannia Street, London WC1X 9JD
Telephone: 020 7841 9960