Times Square Arts is a public art program that provides a platform for innovators in contemporary visual and performing arts on a large scale. Given that over 300,000 people pass through Times Square on a daily basis, it provides unprecedented exposure in a high profile location. In the years since it began, it has played host to over 60 artists, both up and coming and well established.One of the recurring projects at Times Square is the annual Valentine Heart Design curated by the Design Trust for Public Space. This year marks the 10th year of the competition that awards the winner the glory of displaying their piece in Times Square. The winner this year, a collaborative piece from the artists Aranda/Lasch and Marcelo Coelho, is titled Window to the Heart and the big reveal will take place at 11 AM on February 1st, between 46th and 47th street at Father Duffy Square. The design will remain on location for viewing for the entire month.
Aranda/Lasch design studio was established in 2003 as a collaboration between architects Benjamin Aranda and Chris Lasch. In addition to designing buildings and furniture, this innovative duo has already made a mark in the art world, including work that is part of the permanent collection of the MoMA. Marcelo Coelho is a Brazilian/American computation designer whose work ranges from objects to installations. After receiving his doctorate in Media Arts and Sciences from the MIT Media Lab, his work has included exhibitions at the Corcoran Gallery or Art, the 2016 Paralympic ceremony, and the Tel Aviv Museum of Art.
The piece that they have created is actually a giant Fresnel lens. This is a type of compact design that allows for the construction of a lens with a short focal length and a large aperture but at a smaller scale than that which would be called for when utilizing traditional lens manufacturing techniques. First developed by the French physicist Augustin-Jean Fresnel for the creation of lenses for lighthouses, the unique design is made possible by the use of separate sections of glass mounted into a frame, rather than being ground from a single piece.
Lenses have historically been made by grinding and shaping glass, however for this piece, the artists turned to 3D printing to create the lens segment by segment. A clear resin was used as the material for printing, another deviation from the glass of traditional lenses. The ability to create such smooth and transparent surfaces represents the very latest in 3D printing technology. In order to create these lenses, the artists worked with Formlabs, a natural connection as Coelho is Head of Design at Formlabs.
The piece will represent the world’s largest lens with a whopping 12′ diameter and will bend and redirect the light it captures into the heart shaped window at its center. The artists imagine it becoming the focus of the thousands of lenses in the cameras and cell phones of the people who pass by each day, thereby creating a connection between lenses, private and public, that questions the roles of image and image maker.
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