Roden Crater Project
(Flagstaff, Arizona, USA)

When the Roden Crater came into sight, I felt that this mountain had been a mountain which was predestined to be found.

It was clearly different from the mountains I looked on the way for sure. It is not by far high but rises alone from a green field without connecting with surrounding mountains.

The artwork which James Turrell, one of the splendid contemporary artists in the present time, planned and is realizing over more than 30 years in the plateau of Arizona, is the Roden Crater Project. The project was named after the surname of the family who settled in this wilderness first.   

He found the place by his private plane and started on a work to change the discovered dead volcano, Roden Crater, into a grand landscape art.

Over the entrance of the mountain side covered with red clay, a long tunnel excavated underground extends to two sky spaces. The once main eruption hole and a smoke hole were changed into the sky spaces. It seems as if a visitor had followed the flow of magma and had been traveling to the eruption hole.

The eruption hole is processed into a perfect circle and a visitor experiences the change of the sky at sunrise and sunset through the eruption hole from the underground.

Just like the House of Light in Japan, as it grows dark, the color of the sky seen through the eruption hole changes to a deeper indigo color than the actual sky color. In the land of Arizona, not only the light but also the sound of the wind are cut off and it resonates to the bottom of the eruption hole.

The branch tunnel takes to the bottom of a mortar-shaped crater. One side of the crater edge had become higher by a west wind that always blows. Now the edge was processed into a level perfect circle and the round cut-off sky appears.

When going up a steep slope and stand at the crater rim, a magnificent and just consecrated view appears without being obstructed 360 degrees. It is a view that will not overlook any trivial change of nature like green field, rainbow, clouds, wind, rain and cows.

Not only in the scenery that I saw it from afar but also in the scenery that I looked back from there, this place was special.

The landscape like the eruption hole or the crater which James Turrell artificially re-interpreted relativizes natural scenery of the surroundings.

Now, the Sky Space is realized at various places all over the world. The form is similar but it reflects the difference among each place, that is, the difference of a sky, the difference of a landscape and the difference of time and space to go to the place.

This time the photo of the inside is not on public display.

To Japanese Version

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Closed to the public.

Roden Crater



2018.01 Photos and text in English version and Japanese version


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Roden Crater Project (1977 - )

Photo by Daigo Ishii