James Turrell “Twilight Epiphany” Skyspace at Rice University
Rice University revealed its newest on-campus art installation, James Turrell’s “Twilight Epiphany” Skyspace, in mid-June 2012. It is the 73rd in a series of structures by the American artist that have been built in over twenty countries world-wide. Despite their individual differences, all use light and space to alter the viewer’s perception of the sky.
Rice University’s “Twilight Epiphany” is a form of grass-covered pyramid whose sides gently ascend to a flat top that is covered by a 72 square foot roof. The latter is supported by only a few beams and, with a thickness of less than an inch, appears to be almost hovering.
The ceiling is illuminated by LED lights and acts as a frame to the square opening in the center that grants a view of the sky. The changing colors complement the natural light and allow for a reflective interaction with the natural world. Sound will also play a role when the space is used by Rice's Shepherd School of Music: hidden acoustic fixtures permit live and electronic music performances.
The structure next to the Alice Pratt Brown Hall is open all day but the 40-minute light shows are available only during sunrise and sunset; no music is used for the sunrise and sunset light shows. They are free and take place six days a week. About 120 visitors can be seated on benches on two levels, the lower one being wheelchair-accessible.