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The Roden Crater Project
james turrell roden crater project celestial vaultingphotograph courtesy of USGS photographed on a Fairchild CA-3-2B aerial camera.

Summary of the Roden Crater Project

Perhaps one of the most misunder-stood and misrepresented of Turrell's projects. This was begun more than 25 years ago as an extension of the discovery of the aperture pieces, above - and uses the same principle observed in them. The goal of the Roden Crater project is simply this: to sculpt the crater uniformly into a smooth parabolic section in order to create the illusion (from the bottom of the crater) that the depression in the earth (the crater itself) is in fact flat ground, and that the SKY ITSELF is 'vaulted' - he himself has referred to this effect as 'celestial vaulting'.

The effect is a simple one- the brain 'wants' to see the ground as flat, as that is what we are used to seeing - and, given a subtle enough ascent up the slopes of the crater, the brain WILL assume this - however - to take up the slack, the brain will need to compensate for some of the spurious information that it is taking in via the eyes (that the walls are in fact CURVED) and therefore - the brain will force the sky to appear to be solid, and curved, in the form of a dome or sphere. The effect would only be visible within a certain area of the crater itself and would therefore require the viewer to view the phenomenon at certain points within the crater. The project is to this date still unfiinished.


james turrell roden crater project celestial vaultingdiagram showing central axis and proposed shape of crater.

Sculpting of the Crater

The diagram to left indicates the original proposed shape of the crater showing areas for earth removal.

more information pending

written and edited by JWD


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