Every year, public art program Times Square Arts invites love-themed proposals from architecture and design firms for exhibition throughout February. A collaboration between design studio Aranda\Lasch and architect Marcelo Coelho, Window to the Heart is currently stationed in Midtown Manhattan as the 2018 winner of the Times Square Valentine Heart Design Competition.
A 3D-printed Fresnel lens with the shape of a heart cut out of the center, Window to the Heart is both the world’s largest lens and a romantic photo op for passersby.
Measuring 12 feet in diameter, the lens was manufactured by Formlabs and designed to “distort and capture the image of Times Square, optically bending light—and attention—to the heart-shaped window at its center,” explains Times Square Arts on their website. “Visitors can look through the window or photograph themselves within it, completing the loop between the lens of the eye and the lens of the camera.”
Traditionally, lenses are made by casting, cutting, and repeatedly polishing glass, but Window to the Heart exhibits cutting-edge 3D technology. Made of clear resin, each lens component affords a unique texture and quality, while it simultaneously “upends the centuries-old methods of lens-making to invite individuals to reimagine how they see and photograph the world.”
In one of New York City’s most photographed regions, lenses can be found pretty much everywhere you look. “But a lot of people don’t give the lens enough credit,” designer Benjamin Aranda told artnet News. “Behind every photo that you see is a lens.”
Window to the Heart is now the largest and most intriguing lens in Times Square. The installation invites visitors to appreciate its craftsmanship, and photograph themselves with a lens, within a lens, framed by the artwork’s heart-shaped center.
Window to the Heart will remain on view through the month of February at Father Duffy Square between 46th and 47th Streets, New York, NY 10036.