I Spy With My Little Eye: A Public Installation for Art Week 2019

I Spy With My Little Eye: A Public Installation for Art Week 2019

January 28, 2020

My talented friends Yosop Ryoo, his brother, Yohan Ryoo and myself submitted a proposal that got accepted for the 2019 Art Week's Changing Lanes in Auckland. The project consisted of three pods positioned on Lower Vulcan lane, in Auckland city. Monoculars were fixed to each pod which activated particular moments throughout the lane with small scale wooden mannequins.


Visualisation render of the proposal

Bellow is the proposal we submitted (written by Yohan Ryoo):

How often do we stop to consider the spaces around us?
It appears that we, as passersby, often take our surroundings for granted.

Throughout Lower Vulcan Lane, passersby will find an array of optics.
Looking into these presents an opportunity to peer into some of the spatial and temporal particularities of one of Auckland's most interesting thoroughfares.
From the lane's unusual spaces to its curious past and present activities — all are on display if you stop to look.


The Process:

This project had an interesting design process, form start to completion. The focus was on the 'event' (peering through the monoculars, attempting to spot all wooden mannequins hidden throughout the lane) which dictated everything else: the materials, construction system, details, hardware, scale and the physical positioning of the pods.

Below is a breakdown of some the main stages and learning curves of our process:

1. Selecting the view and asking for stakeholders agreement

The project required tedious preparation and organisation in order to align and activate all the views. We needed the approval of stakeholders involved so we could place the wooden mannequins in their premise. This ended up being one of the most time consuming part of the project.


 Aerial view of the placement of the pods with the targeted viewshafts


 Photo-montage of some of the targeted views we decided to activate throughout the lane. Our Intention was to make each one of them context specific, cute and humorous. 



After visiting the lane and selecting the moments we wanted to activate, we went door to door to ask the targeted stakeholders for their approval. The majority were very receptive and supportive of the idea.

2. Designing & Building The Pods 

The form, materials and construction system had to be aligned with the event of the pods. These needed to be easy to transport, easy to assemble on-site, durable for a week and give us enough flexibility to calibrate all the view shafts. 



Exploded view showing the construction system of the pods. From the top view, each pod were shaped as a hexagon which made it easy for us to extract the data of each view. The construction was light, cost effective and simple: Plywood panels as the exposed envelope and interlocking, laser cut steel fins as the structural framework. 


The first 1:1 physical prototype ended being way too large and imposing which would've make it difficult to transport and intimidating to the public. This was a valuable test to make as it made us decide to downsize the pods to a friendlier scale.





3. Hardware & Detailed Elements

There were two hardware that were critical in this whole design scheme which brought the project together. 


The monoculars we selected had to be hard wearing, water proof and powerful enough to cover a good amount of visual distance.  
Bought from Amazon

 Each monocular had a 'dual axis hinge' attach to its base. These were a lifesaver! They gave us room for flexibility when calibrating the viewshafts. The hinges also added to the interactivity of the pods.

Bought from RS-Components


4. Calibrating The Views

Prior to the actual event, the pods had to be transported to the site several times in order to align and extract all the angles of the selected views. Our data extracting system was composed of a thin aluminum rod and a two plastic garden mesh panels that would be placed on the pods frame.


Axonometric view showing our data extraction system. The aluminium rod aiming at a targeted point and piercing through two garden mesh panels gave us the coordinates of each hole position. These were then cut on plywood with a CNC router.



Yosop's focus intensifies!


5. The Event





I Spy With My Little Eye was an incredibly rewarding collaborative project. The response from the public was extremely positive and more popular than we've anticipated. People were queuing up to peer through the monoculars! It was a very cool experience.

The installation became an urban apparatus that catalysed the passerby's curiosity. It also reminded me that design has the ability to bring a smile on people's faces, through the careful curation of an event.