Each year, over 4 million sets of eyeglasses are thrown out in North America. Where do all these specs go? Some surely and sadly end up in the landfill, while others might be donated to needy individuals here or overseas. For Calgary, Canada based artists Caitlind r.c. Brown & Wayne Garrett, 14,000 lenses from these trashed eyeglasses figure front and center in a glittering art installation that recently debuted in Istanbul, Turkey.
Titled Sea/See/Saw, the work mimics the glistening surface of Istanbul's famous Bosphorus River, which symbolically and literally separates Asia from Europe. The work hangs in front of the city's Pera Museum, to celebrate its tenth anniversary, now housed in the historic Hotel Bristol:
Museums change our perceptions of culture, art, history, and our current time and place. sea/see/saw’s use of lenses playfully speaks to changes in perception, celebrating Pera Museum’s contribution to Istanbul’s cultural landscape, with an eye focused on the future.
Watch how it was made:
The artists recruited various individuals and organizations in both Istanbul and Calgary to donate unwanted eyewear to the project. Many of the lenses came from the Canadian Lions Eyeglass Recycling Centre, an organization that brings old eyeglasses to the people who can't afford them new (you can donate some by visiting their site). The ones used in the installation were pairs that couldn't be recycled, and the artists made a donation to acquire them.
The transparent lenses are arranged to create a kinetic field that moves dynamically with the wind, a kind of enormous lens made up of many smaller parts.
The work brings a lot of well-deserved attention to the museum, which focuses on Orientalist art, in addition to hosting international exhibitions. In a city that bridges East with West, the installation reminds us that art knows no boundaries, bringing light into everyday life. Sea/See/Saw will be up until January 2016. More over at the Pera Museum and the artists' site, Incandescent Cloud.