New York City is celebrating love this year with the world’s largest lens, which allows users to see the city, and their special somebody, through a totally different perspective. Standing 12 feet tall and eight feet wide, the latest Times Square Valentine Heart Design installation combines centuries-old lens technology with the latest in 3D printing to produce unique (and selfie-friendly) visual effects.
Shattering the previously held record by a lighthouse in Oahu, Hawaii, New York’s Times Square now holds the world’s largest Fresnel-type lens. A Fresnel lens is a type of compact lens originally developed by French physicist Augustin-Jean Fresnel for lighthouses. The design allows the construction of lenses of large aperture and short focal length without the mass and volume of material that would be required by a lens of conventional design.
The lens is the product of Aranda\Lasch and Marcelo Coelho. “Times Square is a symbol for how we experience our world,” the artists explained in a press release. “It is a physical manifestation of our culture, one dispersed and absorbed through cameras and screens.” “We realized for this project we could make something larger, but 3-D printed; so we used a 21st-century technology to make something as large and as optically precise [as the glass lighthouse lens in Oahu],” comments Aranda. Because of its scale, the work demands interactivity—a heart-shaped hole at the center is the perfect frame for a photograph, say the designers, and the way the clear resin material bends light creates an inviting and colorful pattern on the surface.
A selfie-opportunity if there ever was one, the sculpture, dubbed “Window to the Heart,” is open for people to photograph themselves within it, which completes the loop between the lens of the eye and the lens of a camera, the organization points out.
The sculpture was unveiled on February 1st at Father Duffy Square, between 46th and 47th streets, and will be up through the end of the month.