The German term Ganzfeld (which translates as 'complete field') indicates the psychological phenomenon of the total loss of depth perception as in the experience of a white-out. Turrell artificially creates a similar experience through the controlled used of light, coved corners and an inclined floor. The effect of a Ganzfeld can be compared to that of a snow storm, when it becomes impossible to distinguish clearly what you are seeing before you. Ganzfelds are described by Turrell as 'sensing spaces': homogenous perceptual spaces and visual fields that provide the viewer with a disorienting experience of the "fullness of the void".
"You are not really sure which way is up or down," says the artist. "I am interested in this new landscape without horizon".
From the end of 1968, together with his colleague Robert Irwin (1928) and psychologist Dr Edward Wortz, James Turrell has been conducting experiments on total perceptive fields (Ganzfelds) and on sensory deprivation, as part of the Art and Technology programme set up by the Los Angeles County Museum in partnership with the scientists and engineers of Lockheed Aircraft, IBM and the Garrett Aerospace Corporation. In this context, James Turrell has conducted research into the modes of human perception in controlled environments or under conditions of altered perception, which has gone on to influence his later work to a considerable extent.