an optical installation in beijing reflects raindrops with 30,000 reused eyeglass lenses

optical installation now on display in beijing

Caitlind rc Brown and Wayne Garrett created a eyeglasses-source Exhibition design made up of 30,000 reused eyeglass lenses titled “And between us, an ocean”, exhibited at the Times Art Museum in Beijing until September 12, 2022 as part of the exhibition WAVELENGTH: On the Edge of Senses. Inspired by raindrops public art features polycarbonate plastic bound by meandering yarn and white light reflections, ushering in the reflection of a waterfall. The optical installation evokes the theme of changing perspectives, the concept of reciprocity and the idea of ​​distance.

Upon entering the exhibit, the flimsy barricades cut through the museum space as if they were curtains, swinging gently and allowing viewers to see through to the other side as they gaze at the lenses or gaps between the suspended objects. The glazed walls envelop the space and the spectators with its undulating visual, and the spectators are invited to walk through the exhibition without rushing to discover the renewed life of the recycled materials and intentions that the artists seek to convey.

For And between us, an ocean, Caitlind and Wayne discuss connection and separation. Despite thousands of corrective lenses, each one was tailored to a person’s particular eyes. The installation then invites us to question the collective vision of society. ‘What faint ghosts are carried by such intimate objects – windows to the world for the audience of one? How is our shared reality shaped by so many perspectives from the same place and time? » ask the artists. Spectacle lenses implore viewers to explore the grander scale of human experience and the power of its desire to see the world beyond its surface, more clearly and free from previous prejudice.

images courtesy of Caitlind rc Brown and Wayne Garrett

30,000 spectacle lenses reused remotely

The title of the installation evokes a narrative about desire across distance, as the artists explain. From a literal point of view, And between us, an ocean refers to the physical and cultural distance between Canada, the artists’ homeland, and China, the site of the exhibition. Two countries and cultures collide, letting the boundaries of their relationship melt away without hesitation. “From a more metaphysical point of view, the name evokes the distance between us, always, from the scale of atoms, and our many attempts to transcend this distance in search of closer relationships, interspace and ‘unity”, Caitlind and Wayne Explain.

The artists share that the lenses they used came from factory defects in Beijing and unusable lenses from the Canadian Lions Eyeglass Recycling Center in Calgary. They had collected about 10,000 coins in Canada and 20,000 in Beijing. Due to travel and COVID restrictions, the duo were unable to travel to Beijing to help with the setup. Instead, they developed the exhibit piece remotely, echoing one of the piece’s overarching themes of distance. They created the plans and prototypes and sent them to Liya Liu and Yuqi Wei of PIKOU, the group that curated the WAVELENGTH: On the Edge of Senses exhibition at the Times Art Museum.

optical facility in beijing
close up view of optical facility in beijing

Develop and install remotely

As a team, everyone involved in materializing the project all tested methods, priorities and installation methodologies via video calls and between the artists’ studio in Calgary and the team’s workspace. PIKOU in Beijing. Another team in Beijing worked to install the spectacle lenses in two towering curtains inside the museum, completing the process. As for the materials used, Caitlind and Wayne believe that found and used eyeglass lenses carry with them the weight of their history through scratches, tapes and loose hinges.

“As artists, we have often used mass-produced objects as a reference to cities as an immeasurable mass of materials, people, situations and tensions. There is a powerful relationship between objects and the people who use them, a reciprocity of form and function,’ Caitlind and Wayne share. Whether mountains of discarded objects are considered hyper-objects or strata in the Anthropocene, the artists remind viewers that these accumulations of everyday objects evoke something both personal and interpersonal.

optical facility in beijing
the optical installation in beijing is titled ‘And Between Us, An Ocean’

optical facility in beijing
optical facility in beijing looks like raindrops near and far

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