The Black Eye -Third Sight neon was an art piece commissioned by Colt Technologies in 2018 through the agency RADAR London. It incoprorates the Furr-initiated nano black super body material '7Black' invented by Francois de Luca and Hin Chun Yau.
The piece was launched at the Science Musum in London on 28 November 2018 as part of the Museums Lates programme. Furr also gave a talk on the colour black.
An extract from the talk is given here:
"After I had revealed that Anish Kapoor had been given the exclusive license for Vantablack I had been making in roads into making a new black happen with my collaborators. Help had initially come in the form of Brad Pietras who had contacted me and told me that he could help me obtain some black nano molecules then he introduced me to Imperial College’s deputy director Deeph Chana and scientists Francois and Hin Chun.
I went in to imperial college with this rolled up- life size sketch of the glasses on paper and I asked Hin Chun and Francois if they could create a black I could use for it. I had been commissioned by Colt Technologies in Shoreditch to create a new Art piece. From the beginning I told everyone I would only do it if I could get a new nanoblack to work for the left eye as it was integral to the piece. It was a great challenge to make this work and we had many ups and downs but finally we had a Eureka moment in the lab at Imperial when the guys cracked it.
Where did the inspiration come from for the artpiece? People are always interested in where artists get their ideas from.
The subject of vision or sight has been a valid subject matter for artists for sometime.
Eg. Magrittes 'The False Mirror’
I wanted to include the pupil for a reason. In the book ‘The Undoing Project’ it is mentioned that behaviourial economists Kahneman and Tversky did experiments to measure the size of the pupil in response to various stimuli. The pupil shrinks when viewing a shark as it does to viewing Abstract Art.
Eyes and vision are often a surrealist theme. Felix the Cat getting hypnotized and Louis wains large eyed Cheshire Cat
I gave myself the brief of creating a special pair of glasses that might symbolize better inner vision.
Spectacles help us see more clearly.
They give us vision. Glasses alter the perception of a shortsighted person. And ‘shortsighted’ has two meanings so what if they gave us inner vision too? What would they look like? If they could alter your perception of the world and yourself?
I thought to myself what would a pair of spectacles look like that would help me see everything at the same time - past present and future, light and dark.
There is an opticians sign on Richmond Green and I took a photo of it with the sun appearing where the third eye or pineal gland is meant to exist in the centre of the forehead just above and between the eyes. Watching the sun set is meant to be good for your pineal gland
The’third eye’ is otherwise known as the pineal gland or parietal eye which Descartes thought was the seat of the soul. The pineal gland regulates melatonin and regulates sleep patterns.
The third eye is also called the minds eye or inner eye and it is a mystical and esoteric concept of a speculative invisible eye which provides perception beyond ordinary sight.
I was talking about this the other day to my friend and I said to him “ I am genuinely interested in the pineal gland’ and then I realized I sounded just like one of Peter Cooks characters.
Reptiles and amphibeans sense light via a third parietal eye. There is a bullfrog where you can see the parietal eye - the small grey oval in the middle of its head like a light sensor.
Other references: In The Great Gatsby by F Scott Fitzgerald there is an optician sign that appears as a recurring motif that represents a kind of dispassionate all seeing eye like God or judgement.
So what does the title of the art piece - Black Eye - Third Sight actually mean?
Getting a ‘Black Eye’ could be metaphorical like getting a knock and then learning from it and becoming stronger and wiser.
So my glasses have two contrasting sides.
For the dark side I was interested in these two phenomenon.
Block time sees time as an unchanging four dimensional block And it reminded me of the theory of the black hole which is if you fell into a black hole you see the entire future of the Universe unfold in front of you in a matter of moments
Prisoners cinema -The followers of Pythagoras used to retreat into pitch black caves to receive wisdom through their visions and this was known as the prisoners cinema.
The Blind Seer is an old archetype. They are blind, and yet they can see more than we can. In mythology the sacrifice of sight is meant to result in greater other worldly cosmic knowledge. Then there is 'the overview effect' that astronauts experience in space when they look into the blackness. Is this what reality really is?
For the bright side of the glasses I was interested in these two themes.
I thought of the phrase ‘Looking at the world through Rose coloured glasses’ it refers to looking at something in a positive light or romanticized way.
Changing it with a filter somehow because you don’t like it enough as it is already.
I have always loved the view of the Roman campagna from Tivoli by Claude Lorrain in the Queens Gallery. It has a beatific rosy glow but this spot is where English travellers on the Grand Tour picnicked observing the scene through tinted spectacles called Claude glasses in order that the view might look something like this painting.
How you see the world depends on what filter you are looking through.
I have a thing for pink.
I love the Ultra Fragola Mirror by the Italian designer Sotsass . Its design and colour definitely influenced the look of the right 'overstimulation' side of the glasses.
I wanted the pink side of the glasses to be about positivity and sensory overload almost. I also wanted it to be about communication so , I thought about how communication happens now and it's usually through a cable so I thought about a cross section of a cable. I also though it then looked a bit atomic.
I combined this with a colourful pattern drawing my daughter did as a child to arrive at the image for the right side of the glasses.
Its a bit kaleidoscopic too and reminds of the fun of being a kid. The nano tubes in the 7black are also are only an atom in width so it references them too
But I wanted the glasses to have extreme contrasts - the picturesque vs the void. Meaning v non meaning. One eye radiating and one eye absorbing.
In summary I wanted to create a modern image about perception that was about hope and wonder, mystery and humour and about both high and low as I believe that is what makes real beauty."
SEE THE NEW BLACK FLIGHT 18.45–21.30 (TALK AT 19.30) Artist Christian Furr discusses his latest artwork Black-Eye Third Sight, made with 7Black, the Furr-initiated new super-nanoblack paint created by Imperial College scientists Hin Chun Yau and François de Luca.