Installation, 2000

Rebecca Cummins (US)

Add water to the common red wine glass and it becomes a pristine lens that turns the world upside down. The view appears much like it would in a camera, however a camera lens won’t spill if you tip it; move and the view moves too. This common domestic object inverts the view due to its spherical shape and the refractive index of water.

Light rays bend, or refract when they enter the water-filled glass, and refract again when they leave. Due to this, the image the viewer sees is upside down and reversed right to left. The motion of the image is also reversed: when the object moves up, the image moves down; when the object moves closer to the sphere, the image moves farther away.

Simply Smashing is made up of approximately 200 water-filled wine glasses. It is an elegant and playful meditation on perception and fragility. Each individual glass acts like a human eye, becoming a lens that magnifies and inverts the image of its surroundings.

Set in the window of Science Gallery café, viewers will see an inverted version of the world outside. Passers-by on the street will see Science Gallery café through a new lens.

Artist's Statement

I first noticed the effect while studying my wine glass during a long university awards ceremony in Sydney, Australia (appropriately ‘down under’). Simply Smashing demonstrates the collusion of sophisticated optical principles (refraction and inversion) with social activity and domesticity.