Art, Perception and Technology

Andy Kurtz, Mark Matthews, Jennifer Sertl

Circle Optics physics first solution uses polygonal lenses that align along their edges without parallax distortion. Like our own technology, we love stories about innovation. One such story is by artist Mark Matthews who created a new method for designing glass objects – precision air entrapment. 

There is a paradox when looking at a glass sphere. The further away a feature is in a glass sphere, the larger it looks. If you want the air figures in a sphere to look the same size, and they are at different depths, they must actually be different sizes.  That is exactly what Mark Matthews has done in this design called “Aligned Triangle Sphere”.  You can read more about his process in the Glass Art Society Journal, 2012. 

Inspired by 19th century German Victorian sulfide marbles, Matthews developed his techniques and equipment for “precision air entrapment” in 1991. In his own words he says, “it exploits the most basic characteristics of the glass. The viscosity of glass changes intimately with temperature: it is very slow to take on temperature and it is very slow to give it up. So it’s possible to build a sphere with air features in the center and if you are very careful not to get the center so hot that the bubbles distort, you can sear the surface to provide malleability and form a sphere with the original bubble shapes undisturbed. 

Mark Matthews holding his glass art piece called “Aligned Triangle Sphere”. 

 “Circle Optics cameras are designed to control parallax, by controlling the projection of chief rays from the polygonal edges of the outer lens element, through a conical volume, and down to, and past the image plane. However, the image light travels different actual unseen paths, in getting from beyond the lens to that image plane. In Mark Matthews, art glass Aligned Triangles Sphere I see both aspects, the projection of a triangular frustum towards a hidden entrance pupil, and optical compression, where things are not what and where they seem, when viewed from different perspectives.”  Andrew Kurtz, Circle Optics Director of R&D

Whether it is art, or state of the art technology, adding the laws of physics, curiosity always creates something new. 

Mark Matthews is notably recognized for his work in glass, especially in glass spheres. Working with only one assistant, each piece is meticulously worked and signed by the artist. Highly collected and valued, Matthews’ work has been published in many books and is held in museums such as the Victoria & Albert Museum in London, England, the Corning Museum of Glass in New York, the Toledo Museum of Art in Ohio and the National Museum of American Art, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C. For a deeper dive into Mark Matthews artist point of view you can check out The Music of Spheres – Art Works of Mark Matthews by Robert Crafton. If you are collector of spheres or know someone who is, you can see many of his creations at the Corning Museum of Glass in Corning, NY.

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