The Time Machine: from Los Alamos to Cooper’s Garage

It is not a cube, nor a standing wall, nor a Mirage two-dimensional piece. Larry Bell’s Time Machine is unlike the art most art-watchers expect from the artist. The Time Machine invites the viewer to take a seat and consider light, reflection, refraction and serendipity. The Time Machine is on view in Taos for a two-day pop-up exhibition at Cooper’s Garage, 200 Bendix Drive, April 13 and 14, noon to 5:00pm. The public can sit in the Time Machine and marvel at where it takes them.

The story of the Time Machine  starts in the 1970s in Los Alamos, New Mexico, at a place called The Black Hole. There one could buy all sorts of surplus supplies that originated at Los Alamos National Labs. Larry often searched The Black Hole for studio supplies and fixtures for his two vacuum coating machines.

Ed Grothus in the Black Hole surplus store in Los Alamos. Photo by Fran Hogan, January 2005. From WikiMedia. The glass in the Time Machine came from this store.

Here is how Larry describes the origins of the Time Machine.

I found the two glass ovals at the Black Hole (Los Alamos Labs’ surplus yard run for over 30 years by a guy named Ed Grothus) in the late 1970s. I believe the shape of the glass was determined by accurate consistent transmission. These parts cost the government a lot when they were made for LANL––and when they were made is still a mystery to me. And what were they used for? We have no idea. For the inspection of something?

For years I used them in the studio for improvisational stimulation of light inspections. In other words, ‘I played with them.’ When I conceived of the idea of the current configuration, they were parts of a ‘time machine,’ I decided that they should be used in a formal setting. The viewer bounces between the glass and the source of the light at a speed of 186,000 miles a second.

The Time Machine is not only a work of art it is an enigmatic historic artifact. In fact, it is priceless.

Larry Bell on The Time Machine, April 2024

Here are images of the Time Machine installed in exhibitions over the past twenty years.

David Anthony Fine Art, Taos,” 9/11 and the Time Machine,” 2008


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Bell in the Time Machine at David Anthony Fine Art in Taos, 2008. Photo by Ollie Bell


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Bell in the Time Machine at Carre D’art Musee, Nimes, France, In Perspective, 2011


The Time Machine at ICA Miami, 2018/ Photo by Ollie Bell


Bell With Lesley Feely and Dora Dillistone at ICA Miami, 2018


The Time Machine
The Time Machine at Harwood Museum of Art, 2018


The Time Machine
The Time Machine at Harwood Museum of Art, 2018
The Time Machine
The Time Machine at ICA Miami, 2018
The Time Machine
The Time Machine at ICA Miami, 2018


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The Time Machine in Bell’s Taos studio, 2024

The Time Machine has been exhibited at these institutions:

Kiyo Higashi Gallery, Los Angeles, After 9/11, April 2002 – October 2002

New Gallery, Houston, December 2002-January 2003

David Anthony Fine Art, Taos, 9/11 and the Time Machine, 2008

Carre D’art Musee, Nimes, France, In Perspective, February 2011 – June 2011

5 LITE, Los Angeles, September 2011 – December 2011

Larry Bell Taos Annex, November 2012 – June 2018

Harwood Museum of Art, Larry Bell, Hocus, Focus and 12, June – October 2018

ICA Miami, Larry Bell. Time Machines, October 2018 – March 2019

Walker Art Center, March – July 2020

Cooper’s Garage, April 2024


See the Time Machine at GUS AND RON AND LARRY exhibition

What: A pop-up exhibition in Taos

Where: Cooper’s Garage in Taos, 200-B Bendix Drive, Taos (on Paseo del Canon West, between Camino Medio and Salazar)

When: Saturday and Sunday, April 13 and 14, 2024, noon to 5:00pm

Read more: BeyondTaos


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