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Turning up the senses

Yesterday Damian and I braved the intense NYC heat to go to the James Turrell light show at the Guggenheim. Turrell had transformed the museum into an exceptionally unique experience of light. The entire rotunda, with its five levels reaching upwards, was lit variously with slowly changing colors. From orange to pink to violet to blue to green in no set pattern. It was easy to sit there quietly and be absorbed by the light.

People were lying on the floor, sitting around the rim and wandering up the ramps. I would have liked being there when it was silent, or if there was some music to match the colors. As it was, there were at least a dozen recognizable languages being spoken, a steady hum acting as the music.

Later, when Damian and I talked about the exhibit, he told me he has synesthesia, sees numbers, letters and days of the week in color. Definitely a heightened sensory experience, one he must be used to. I asked him about the letters of my name: L is a deep denim blue to him and E is orange. We all know about blue Monday. To Damian, Monday is red and Tuesday is blue. But it’s not that he thinks about the color of the day during the day, it’s just when he looks at the name spelled out.

It made me think about how I see color in my everyday meanderings. There is, for me, a vividness and individuality to the color in my environment, but it is more about how the different colors interact, not how they are linked to something else. It’s about how they differentiate, talk to each other, about personality. Color is fascinating, in any form it takes.


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