A Skyspace for Contemplation: Dividing the Light

A skyspace offers its visitors a place to sit and contemplate the sky through an opening in the ceiling, called an oculus, through which the only sky is visible. Buildings, trees, cell-phone towers, billboards, and traffic lights are hidden from the viewer’s sight, along with everything else that clutters the horizon and blurs the boundary between earth and the vastness beyond. The sky appears not as a vast and distant dome but as a bright, flat oval fitted smoothly into the plane of the structure’s ceiling. Dawn and sunset are often said to be the best times to visit.

Skyspaces have proven to be popular with museums and other institutions. The latest has just been completed at Pomona College in California. Pomona’s new architectural installation, was designed by the artist James Turrell. The structure was installed in a courtyard within a group of buildings that houses Pamona’s psychology, neuroscience, and linguistics and cognitive-science programs. A square oculus is in the middle of a stainless-steel canopy erected in the courtyard; a stone pool beneath it reflects the sky’s bright blue during the day and its inky darkness at night. The beautiful new skyspace installation is entitled Dividing the Light.

The Pomona College Skyspace: Dividing the Light

Interested readers will find a more detailed account of James Turrell’s work in The Chronicle of Higher Education (Subscription) here.

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