\Spec"ta*cle\, n.

[Middle English, from Old French, from Latin spectculum, from spectre, to watch, frequentative of specere, to look at.]


1. Something that can be seen or viewed, especially something of a remarkable or impressive nature.

2. A public performance or display, especially one on a large or lavish scale.

3. A regrettable public display, as of bad behavior

4. A spy-glass; a looking-glass. [Obs.]

5. pl. An optical instrument consisting of two lenses set in a light frame, and worn to assist sight, to obviate some defect in the organs of vision, or to shield the eyes from bright light.

6. pl something resembling eyeglasses in shape or suggesting them in function.

7. pl. Fig.: An aid to the intellectual sight.


Syn: Show; sight; exhibition; representation; pageant.


The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language

Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary







The installation Spectacle is a multi-faceted work that investigates several domains: visual science physiology, store display aesthetics, formal properties of lighting and color, spectacles as refractive error correction devices, spectacles as a fashion accessory and spectacles as a signalling device in local Singapore culture.


In visual science physiology, Spectacle explores the phenomenon of optical mixture – the summation of pixels to form an image in the eye and perceived by the brain. Historically, the phenomenon of optical mixture was first harnessed in pointillism. In pointillism, painted spots serve as the pixel, while in Spectacle, each pair of spectacles and its lenses together serve as a pixel.


Spectacles are not merely refractive devices for the correction of vision, but also sunshades to reduce glare and to enhance contrast appreciation. Spectacles are important fashion devices that reframe the face aesthetically, and vehicles for the expression of individual personality.


In reinforcing the notion of spectacles as a fashion device, and in marketing the spectacles, the retailers of spectacles install aesthetically designed spectacle racks that are often have elements of simplicity, material emphasis, and clinical blend of aesthetics that is consistent with optometry as a science. When we browse in a spectacle shop, we are captivated by the presentation of these spectacles, whether displayed in racks, shelves, or display cabinets. Recognizing the potential of these arrays of racks as a presentation device, the artist harvests these arrays of racks as his canvas, and the spectacles as his pigmented pixels, and re-presents these racks in a grand composition of a subject image.


We look through the lenses of spectacles by receiving light entering the front lenses, but in Spectacle, there is a reversal of the process: the spectacles are lit from the back, light emits from the front lenses, and our eyes look at the front of the lenses.


These arrays of racks may be seen as a scientific device for investigating additive optical mixture under varying luminary conditions, whether the lights are projected from the back panels, or cast from the front in spotlight and diffuse conditions.


The proposed subject is the eyes of the young schooling Singaporean female. The Singaporean schoolgirl is at the highest risk of developing myopia (short-sightedness) in the world because of excessive near work. Yet ironically, many Singaporean schoolgirls aspire to be the Singapore Girl – the air stewardess at the national airline Singapore Airlines that is the icon of Singapore and embodies that virtues of warm service. However, for aesthetic, cosmetic, and branding reasons, the Singapore Girl is not allowed to wear spectacles while in her uniform but must wear contact lenses instead.


Proposed Sites:

Sculpture Square, with a cavernous and minimalist interior, may have one of its site walls lined by Spectacle. The front entrance opens spectacularly to the image of Spectacle, and the back entrance opens surprisingly to the image of Spectacle.

The Esplanade – an architectural spectacle – is another ideal site for the installation of Spectacle, for both the building and the art work allude to a grand and lavish public display.

Commercial malls with atria are provocative sites for shoppers will be surprised for the Spectacle.






Figure 1:  Proposed Subject:   Image of Spectacle    showing the pixels. In this graphical image, each pixel actually consists of 2 spectacle pixels mounted horizontally one above the other.





















Figure 2:  Illustration of an array of racks of spectacles and spectacles serving as pixels.








Figure 3:  Larger view of spectacles mounted on a rack.










Spectacle consists of units of artist-designed spectacle racks that are aligned one after another and one above another in an array. For translation of the depicted image to the array of racks of spectacles, each rack is labelled R1, R2, R3, and so forth. From the top left hand corner of the artwork that is facing the audience, the horizontal rows are labelled 1, 2, 3 and so on, and the vertical rows are labelled AA, AB, AC, and so on to BA, BB, BC, and so on. Each pair of spectacles is labelled and tagged with a discreet small piece of white label with cellophane tape overlay on its right hind appendix by its position on the array, for instance R1, 1, AA for the top left hand corner unit. Below is a sample of a 10 by 10 spectacle rack:








































































































Figure 4:



Each rack unit has mounted translucent white panel which lit from the back by rows of white tungsten filaments tubes of lights. The translucent white panel has mounted Perspex rods that protrude at a perpendicular angle from the translucent white panel at regular intervals. These Perspex rod protrusions end with a stopper. Two-thirds along the Perspex rod, from the stopper to the translucent white panel is a curved Perspex rod that is mounted parallel to the surface of the translucent white panel.  Each of these Perspex rod allows a spectacle to be steadily placed and presented. The nasal rims of the spectacle rest on the stopper, and the hind supports of the spectacles rest on the curved Perspex rod. Each spectacle serves as a pixel.


The artist-designer uses clear transparent Perspex rods so as not to distract from the saturated color of each spectacle lens shade.


Each spectacle is to be mounted a small distance away from the white translucent panel.


Each spectacle is one standard medium-sized lens height and one standard medium-sized lens width in separation spacing.


The preference is for the spectacles to be protected by a layer of Plexiglass. In view of the cost of installing the Plexiglass, this option may not be viable.


The alphanumeric labelling system allows the spectacles to be removed for storage, and reassembled again.


Spectacle is divided into 2 parts: 1 main panel, and 1 secondary panel that is detached.


The artist has arrived at this style of construction based on his observational analysis of various spectacle racks at numerous spectacle retail shops.





Public Participation and Online Presence

There are 2 capital conservative ways to acquire the number of 12,000 spectacles to stage this work. One is to approach a commercial manufacturer or distributor of spectacles to sponsor spectacles in return for publicity coverage. The other is to involve the public by staging global online and local offline word-of-mouth and sponsored advertising and marketing campaign to persuade individuals of the public to donate their spectacles. When an individual public donates his pairs of spectacles, he writes his name, age, country of residence, occupation, e-mail address, and he is encouraged to write on any poignant and memorable aspect of the pair of spectacles. 


A website titled projectspectacle.com displaying zoom in and out views of the installation can be established by simple digital photography and reproduction of the art work. The alphanumeric grid position labels, each corresponding to a pair of spectacles, can be displayed at the website. Each spectacle position is hyperlinked to retrieve from a simple Microsoft Access My SQL database the same particulars and statements contributed by individual donors of the particular pair of spectacles.


The personal attachments of each spectacle serve present a personal human dimension that balances the design aesthetics of Spectacle.


In selecting the spectacles for each pixel position on the rack array, the artist compares the color of the lenses with the color of the draft digital image. If the match is right, the pair of spectacles is granted the corresponding position and labelled. Volunteers of the public pick up the labelled glasses on the tray and place the glasses in the corresponding position.


Current Scale

Spectacle comprise100 racks. Each rack consists of 100 spectacles. There are altogether 10,000 spectacles. The racks may be hung on plain white gallery walls, and appear to be seamless in alignment with one another. Alternately, the racks can be mounted on a weighted space frame for stability and alignment.



The modular structure of the rack array allows the art work to be scaled. Each spectacle serves as a pixel. The work can be scaled by the power of 4. If the original work is at baseline of 1, a larger version will be 4 times the baseline size, and the largest version is 16 times the baseline size.



By following the blueprint image, and the specifications for the construction of the array of racks, any person in any part of the world can reconstruct the art work.


Alternate Presentations

The racks, which are reusable, can be emptied of the spectacles, and the depicted image changed with the placement of new spectacles and new lenses. The racks can be arranged in different configurations. The back lighting color can be varied in intensity of luminescence, and the color can be changed on changing the tubes. The light shining on the racks can be changed in color, intensity of luminescence, area of luminescence (spot or diffuse), direction of projection, and the degree of motion as opposed to static. By this alternate presentations, the work Spectacle ceases to exist in its original form and is replaced by a new work to be titled.