If you have seen the video for Drake’s Hotline Bling, or, more recently, some of the promotional art in companion to Kanye’s new album, Jesus Is King, you have seen the work of James Turrell. James Turell is an artist who paints not with a brush, but with light itself. His most major contribution to the art world was the mammoth of a piece, Roden Crater

The Roden Crater was a measly volcano in northern Arizona fifty years ago but has since been transformed since then by Turell into a work of immeasurable beauty.  The artist has hollowed out the volcano and shaped the way these spaces are viewed with skylight and artificial light. One of the more notable motifs used through different exhibits in the crater is the Ganzfeld effect, which is a mild form of sensory deprivation known to cause mild hallucinations.

 This project is quite ambitious. Even after fifty years, the project is still not ready for the public. After Kanye experienced a life-altering visit to the crater, he decided to donate ten million dollars for the crater’s completion. People suffering from color synesthesia, such as Kanye, can hear or feel colors, so experiencing the crater and its carefully composed lights will certainly be memorable, if not life-altering for these people. This may have contributed to Kanye’s dramatic reaction to the exhibit.

 With the movement of the world towards a more sustainable future, dissecting James Turell’s work is useful. Using the geography of places to create art or living spaces may be the next frontier for society. Let’s say one wanted to build a house out of stone. If done intelligently, one would be able to build two homes at the same time. By taking the resources one needs for the construction of a building and hollowing out a particular region, one is making two spaces at the same time. 

This recycling attitude is present in the Roden Crater. If a lesser artist were using the space, the volcano would likely have been excavated and there would be a building or art exhibit placed on top. This was not the case with James Turrell. He took the less obvious route and used the volcano to build his art. This idea may manifest itself in a number of interesting homes and societies in the future. Look, for instance, at the fantasy homes of the hobbits. Building on the hills of their homeland, rather than building on top, wastes much less space. This appreciation for the natural world is fascinating and highly respectable. Although the significance of the Roden Crater will only be clear once it is finished, the artist once spoke to his interest in the space becoming a campus for creatives. The estimated year of completion is 2024.