James Turrel
House of Light



In 2003 I visited the Earth Art Festival in an area called Echigo-tsumari in Niigata, and wow I was so overwhelmed to see the House of Light.

Photo&Text by tamachangg

In the same period, I had read Junichiro Tanizaki's "In Prase of Shadows" and I felt disgust about fluorescent lights, and was very sensitive to the fate of light and shadow related to Japanese modern cultures. Maybe that was because the impact was so extremely huge.


This piece uses an entire house in which lighting is coordinated by James Turrell. The most impressive point is to look up to the square-shaped sky which shows from the retractable roof in the living room. Please be sure to check in before sunset so you can appreciate it. After sunset until the sky is completely dark and for approximately 30 minutes, during the time the color of sky quickly changes, orange LEDs lit from inside the window gradually turn brighter according to the color of the sky. Framing the sky in contrast with these ceiling lights is designed to be most beautiful.

Most importantly, you are not able to fully appreciate this lighting program unless you stay at the House of Light over night.


I think starting to use fluorescent lights in Japanese style houses was the beginning of a big, big mistake. During the high economic growth period of the 70s-80s, like the catch-phrase at the time "Bright Nation", all lighting, from houses to towns, was switched to fluorescent lights. As a result, places that originally did not have to be lit became lit. Eventually, even the smallest stains became clearly visible, making people accustomed to immediately changing the lightbulb, excessively enhancing the consumption cycle. Additionally using the white light glittering in offices everywhere made people always active. Overall it influenced hugely the economic development of Japan, but at the end did it make people happy?


Every time I hear the discussion about whether something has good or bad sense, sense literally means an ability to sense something, so bad sense purely means the ability to sense is dull. What does it mean when someone wants to improve his sense, when his ability to sense something is dull in the first place?

Having a good sense doesn't always create a benefit. Sensing too much can be so tiring. Therefore it is an inevitable fact that modern society needs to shut out such sensations to continue life.

The House of Light is a place which severely criticizes modern society and at the same time to slightly open the closed up sensation we feel.

House of Light
+81 025-761-1090
http://www11.ocn.ne.jp/~jthikari/
2891 Uenoko Tokamachi-shi, Niigata, Japan

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