Turrell describes his goal
My works don’t illustrate scientific principles, but I want them to express a certain consciousness, a certain knowing. My spaces must be sensitive to events outside themselves. They must bring external events into themselves. I think of my works being important in terms of what they have to do with us and our relationship to the universe, but not necessarily in scientific terms. I’m concerned with what my spaces direct their seeing to, and hence what they direct our seeing to. At the same time I am interested in the expression of time. Because, even though you may have expressions of our particular historical moment in, say, the art of Andy Warhol, there are also expressions that go through time, beyond time, and have a sense of themselves that transcends any specific period. That’s the part of art I’m interested in. This said, however, I do want to be involved with the here and now. I want my art to function in contemporary terms.
James Turrell conversation with Craig Adcock, Jan 1989