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A Dutch City Is Monitored by Giant, Unblinking Eyeballs

People won't be able to avoid the gaze of the Terrible Eyes, say the makers of this Orwellian artwork.

New Heroes

Finally, the city of ‘s-Hertogenbosch has a claim to fame stranger than its name: Five gigantic, striated eyeballs, staring off into space. The massive peepers are mounted on buildings in different districts, but the organizers behind the art installation, New Heroes, make this Orwellian promise: "One Eye will not be visible from another, yet residents will encounter at least one other Eye in their daily travel through the city."

It's a fittingly surreal tribute to the birthplace of Hieronymus Bosch. As for why they exist, New Heroes writes:

EYE was designed as a reaction to the crumbling social cohesion that challenges cities today. This undoing of the social glue causes anonymity in public space, which affects the character of our shared habitat, the City. A city without people engaging, connecting, and sharing is a city without a soul.

Plato suggests that we can only truly know ourselves by gazing into the eyes of the Other in which our soul (heart and thoughts) are reflected. Inspired by his ideas, Lucas tries to reveal the soul of the city through this art project by inviting residents to look themselves and other people in the eye.

If they're so inclined, visitors can climb into the hollow orbs to gaze deeply into their dead, eerie retinas high above the sidewalk. The guys who designed the installation, director Lucas De Man and scenographer Pascal Leboucq, recommend a time of "between 15 and 40 minutes" to fully experience an eyeball:

H/t Lost at E Minor

About the Author

  • John Metcalfe
    John Metcalfe is CityLab’s Bay Area bureau chief, based in Oakland. His coverage focuses on climate change and the science of cities.