ABSTRACT

James Turrell’s perceptual cells incorporate the neurophysiological apparatus as an active participant not only in the reception of projected moving-images, but also in the very production and transmission of virtual moving-images. Combining two perceptual phenomena—the stroboscopic effect and the Ganzfeld Effect—Turrell’s perceptual cells integrate the architecture of projection with the architecture of organic vision to produce a single networked extra-sensory medium. This paper performs a phenomenological analysis of Turrell’s Light Reignfall (2011) perceptual cell, following its design, effects on the viewer, and cultural and material history. In the process, the paper situates the perceptual cell between the history of avant-garde cinema (what historians have called “paracinema”) and the history of perceptual psychology and parapsychology (what the author terms “para-cinema”). Between these two paracinemas, Turrell’s perceptual cells activate the aesthetic potential of what the author discusses as “edgeless projection.”

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