Hey, Mom! The Explanation.

Here's the permanent dedicated link to my first Hey, Mom! post and the explanation of the feature it contains.

Friday, July 14, 2017

Hey, Mom! Talking to My Mother #738 - Roden Explorers - new newsletter - subscribe

Hey, Mom! Talking to My Mother #738 - Roden Explorers - new newsletter - subscribe

Hi Mom,

Here's some show and tell.

Here's a cool newsletter I learned about.

Fell behind. Catching up.

So just this.

FROM - https://craigmod.com/sputnik/invitation/
An invitation — 

Roden Explorers

Join me on an adventure in mailing listing

My first exposure to James Turrell came sometime in winter 2003 following a harrowing drive
through the Japanese night. I was in a van with two Americans, a Japanese, an older —
supposedly famous — French illustrator, a Belgian artist, a Swedish photographer,
and another Frenchman, drunk — quite obviously so — and driving.
That configuration didn’t last very long.
Despite the fact that many of us had never before
met, the consensus quickly shifted. The drunk
Frenchman — against his vocal pleading that
He was fine! He can drive just fine! — would be
replaced as driver. I was the only other passenger
with an international license.
So it came to be that I drove this group of rag-tag bohemians and artists and drunkards through the
night — my first time driving such a large vehicle,
and also my first time driving in Japan. We hurtled
down freeways swaddled in countryside darkness,
past rice fields, music blaring, joyful,
multi-accented English bouncing all over the
interior, the Frenchman snoring in a heap in
the back.
We were bound for the newly opened 21st Century Museum in Kanazawa,1 butted against the harsh
Sea of Japan on the northern coast. James Turrell
had a room there.
I had never before heard of this Turrell fellow.

Everyone spoke well of his work. I was excited.


His room at the 21st Century Museum is like
many of his rooms — a tomb with a rectangular
hole cut in the center of the ceiling. One of his 'Skyspaces.'
I arrived at dusk. I sat. I looked up at the hole.
I watched the sky darken. I felt the freezing air
pour in through the open roof. I pulled my scarf up around my face. Then I left.


Still curious, I returned the next morning and sat
again. The hole framed a crisp, deep blue Japanese
winter sky. Suddenly a cloud floated past. Then
some birds flew over.
The construction was such that the material
forming the hole in the roof was tapered to almost nothing. This tapering produced the
optical illusion — as you continued to stare —
that the sky was pulled down to the very ceiling of
the room. Standing on your tippy toes you could
almost believe you could touch it. And when
something moved past, it felt compressed and


And so began my minor obsession with James’
work. I’ve spent the night in his house in Niigata2
— a stunning collaboration with Japanese architect
Daigo Ishii3 in which you sleep in a twelve mat
tatatmi room. At the touch of a button, the roof
slides off the house and a sky viewing timed
perfectly to sunrise and sunset begins. You lie there,
dazed, witness to the majesty of a darkness (as 
the sun sets) and color gradation (as the sun rises)
you’ve never before seen.
This past summer I traveled to Naoshima on
pilgrimage to James’ installations in the Tadao
Ando designed, Chichu Art Museum.4 And I’ve
hunted down small collections of his less
consuming light installations at various museums
and galleries around the world.



It was within this decade long investigation of
James’ work that I discovered his Roden project.5
Roden is the name of a crater in Arizona James
bought in the '70s. It’s become an icon not just for
his Life Work but for the ideal to which — I
believe — many of us strive as creators. It is a
myth — far larger than life in both ideological
scope and physicality.
Here's James' description of the project:
At Roden Crater I was interested in taking the cultural artifice of art out into the natural surround. I did not want the work to be a mark upon nature, but I wanted the work to be enfolded in nature in such a way that light from the sun, moon and stars empowered the spaces … I wanted an area where you had a sense of standing on the planet. I wanted an area of exposed geology like the Grand Canyon or the Painted Desert, where you could feel geologic time. Then in this stage set of geologic time, I wanted to make spaces that engaged celestial events in light so that the spaces performed a “music of the spheres” in light. The sequence of spaces, leading up to the final large space at the top of the crater, magnifies events. The work I do intensifies the experience of light by isolating it and occluding light from events not looked at. I have selected different portions of the sky and a limited number of events for each of the spaces. This is a reason for the large number of spaces.
Did you read that?
Then in this stage set of geologic time …


It’s with this work in mind I’d like to start a
mailing list: The Roden Explorers Club.
It'll be a little more private than posting on this site.
 A little more ephemeral, perhaps. Like a crater in
the desert: there if you look on Google Maps, but
usually out of sight.
I'd like for it to be a place for me to announce small
projects built with a pinch of James’ ethos in mind.

Somewhere to ask folks for feedback. Somewhere
to share off-the-cuff thinking about the future of
books and publishing. A place for you to hit 'reply'
outside of the public spectacle of comments
and tweets.
The mailing list will have almost nothing to do explicitly with Roden, of course. Roden is just a guiding star, far off in our desert sky.
If any of this interests you, then please consider
joining me and becoming an Explorer. The
messages will be infrequent, and you can
unsubscribe at anytime.
Together we'll hurtle out under the darkness of the interwebs towards whispers of who knows what. Hopefully joyful, joyfully hopeful, and, perhaps, a
bit drunk.
So, see you out there?


  1. Kanazawa, 21st Century Museum ↩︎
  2. House of Light (光の館), Niigata, Japan ↩︎
  3. Future Scape — Daigo Ishii, Architects ↩︎
  4. Chichu Art Museum ↩︎
  5. Roden Crater ↩︎

This essay, published November 2012. Thoughts?
Email me@craigmod.com.
Craig Mod, his head, floating at the bottom of the article
Craig Mod is a writer and designer splitting his time
between Japan and New York. He is a MacDowell
Colony and VCCA writing fellow. His essays and
articles have appeared in The AtlanticCalifornia Sunday MagzineBackchannelAeonNew ScientistVirgina 
Quarterly ReviewThe New YorkerThe New York Times,
The Morning NewsCodex: Journal of Typography, and elsewhere.
Whatever you do, don't follow @craigmod on Twitter or Instagram.


Reflect and connect.

Have someone give you a kiss, and tell you that I love you.

I miss you so very much, Mom.

Talk to you tomorrow, Mom.


- Days ago = 740 days ago

- Bloggery committed by chris tower - 1707.14 - 10:10

NOTE on time: When I post late, I had been posting at 7:10 a.m. because Google is on Pacific Time, and so this is really 10:10 EDT. However, it still shows up on the blog in Pacific time. So, I am going to start posting at 10:10 a.m. Pacific time, intending this to be 10:10 Eastern time. I know this only matters to me, and to you, Mom. But I am not going back and changing all the 7:10 a.m. times. But I will run this note for a while. Mom, you know that I am posting at 10:10 a.m. often because this is the time of your death.
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