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Musings

Lens by Alex Israel

Art

The monumental sunglass 'Lens' sculptures of Los Angeles-based artist Alex Israel appear simple and refined to the naked eye; however, they are incredible feats of engineering and plastic fabrication.


Posted May 1st, 2018 By Colby Mugrabi

After a year-and-a-half searching for a manufacturer to produce a large enough and thick enough sheet of colored plastic to make each sculpture, Israel came across Acrylic Tank Manufacturing (ATM). At the time, ATM had a reality show on Animal Planet called Tanked. An aquarium specialist, the Las Vegas-based company was able to source giant custom-colored UV protective acrylic sheets from a company in Thailand. After rounds of color sampling to get Israel’s desired sunglass hues just right, and an unfortunate un-related fire that damaged parts of the factory in Thailand and caused further delays, the efforts finally proved a success and the colored sheets were shipped to Nevada.

At ATM, technicians used a three-dimensional scan of an actual sunglass lens (provided by Israel) to create a giant, lens-shaped mound. The plastic sheets were carefully heated in a massive oven and melted over the mound, conforming to the sunglass-shaped form. The resulting, slightly curved sheets of plastic were then polished to perfection, their edges cut and sanded to a translucent matte finish. The four works that made up the initial series were unique and exist in black, pink, green and blue. Israel later expanded the series, moving production to Italy and producing additional colors—yellow, purple and orange—in editions of 4.

Each 'Lens' weighs approximately 600 pounds, and is meant to be displayed either leaning against a single wall, or propped up in a corner.

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