Chancing the Circle 1999

light-based installation

The Pantheon, Rome

Jane  Boyd

photo Edward Woodman

below: The Pantheon

Palazzo della Rotonda  


The Temple is illuminated solely by the passage of natural light through the oculus or aperture in the centre of the roof, unique in being the largest circular dome of unreinforced concrete in the world. The interior is brought to life by one uninterrupted beam of light; there is a tangible sense of being outside as opposed to inside. The special quality in the relationship between the interior and the directness of the source of light by which it is experienced belie the fact that the building has been standing for nearly two thousand years. The eye is drawn up to the concrete dome and down onto the porphyry floor in a precarious state of orientation and disorientation.  This giant enclosure challenges the boundaries between sculpture and architecture.  My eye level seemed too close to the ground and more in common with being outside. In indulging this unfamiliar sensation, I perceive this building as a tiny man-made planet within which the sun rotates. So, by bringing the exterior and interior worlds together in one image, I attempted to demonstrate how standard notions of time can be extended if not replaced by exerting a consciousness of place in space. The time was set for May 15 1999 at 7.30am.  I entered the building; the direct beam of light was obscured by cloud; rain followed yet stopped within 15 minutes and the sun returned: my installation would feature both sun and rain.

Jane Boyd

Jane Boyd