Tourists often flock to Times Square in New York City with their cell phones and cameras at the ready, eager to take pictures of the brightly lit billboards and advertisements. Now, a new installation lets visitors look at “the Crossroads of the World” through a different lens—literally. At the beginning of this month, public art program Times Square Arts unveiled Window to the Heart, a Valentine’s Day-themed Fresnel lens designed by 2014 Design Vanguard Aranda\Lasch and Marcelo Coelho in collaboration with 3D-printing company Formlabs.
Spanning 12 feet in diameter, the lens distorts light emitted by the screens and flashing lights that surround Times Square, drawing the viewer’s attention to a carved-out heart at the center of the lens. The optical effect is most noticeable at night, when visitors can see a warped image of Times Square’s illuminated signs in the darkness. “One thing about our media culture is that it’s highly predicated on the images that are produced,” said Benjamin Aranda, one of the founding principals of Aranda\Lasch. “Everyone loves Times Square because of the size of the images, and we wanted to contribute to that with the largest lens that has ever been made.”
The winner of the 10th annual year’s Times Square Valentine Heart competition, Window to the Heart is made of clear resin instead of glass—an attempt by the project’s designers to showcase the power of 3D-printing. “This is a project that would have not been possible a couple of years ago,” said Coelho.
The installation Window to the Heart is on display until the end of February 2018.