The Eyes of the Many

The Eyes of the Many
...and they sailed away for a year and a day. [ 👁️ ]

The Eyes of the Many project is an oblique entry for consideration in the Imago in Villa Competition – a call for 15 trompe-l'œil artworks along the medieval streets of Castelnuovo Val di Cecina, Italy.

Trompe-L'œil is a historical genre of three-dimensional imagery depicted on two-dimensional surfaces. It typically employs visual trickery to create illusions of space and depth, virtuosic deceptions imbued with the sense of the marvellous – L'inganno.

The Eyes of the Many project embraces this trickster spirit at the heart of the genre, with a distributed public-art experience scattered throughout the village. Proposed as an adjunct to the collection of 15 Trompe L'œil works for the village, this work proposes a parallel manifestation that invites visitors along trails of discovery through the village and into the domains of our fellow creatures on this shared planet.


As our narcissistic gaze grows strong, our anthropocentric vision grows narrow. We delight in our deceptions, enamoured with reflections of our cleverness, and lose touch with our co-existense and shared stewardship of a planet full of other beings – and other seeings. Birds and bees, dogs and cats, elephants and mice, animals and insects, The Eyes of the Many proposes a collection of depictions of the eyes of other creatures, observing the same light bouncing off the surface of everything – just as we do.

It is a play on the notion of Trompe L'œil – the eyes of others, surfaces the question – 'Whose eyes are we really deceiving?' – and gently reminds us that we are not alone in observing the light around us.

flamingo eye


Illustrations of eyes are transferred onto ceramic tiles, creating simple, durable, outdoor objects that can be easily affixed anywhere. The illustrations are rendered with linework that echoes the practice of engraving, a technique historically used for currency. The ceramic tiles – approximately 10x10 or 15x15 cm - would be made with print-on-demand ceramic decals. The tiles could be produced with bullnose edges on 4 sides, or standard tiles could be placed within a minimalist stainless-steel frame.

Engraving pattern


A QR code in the corner of each tile acts as a portal into the world of the creature and their domain. When scanned by a smartphone, the QR codes connect visitors to anecdotal and serendipitous engagements of the creature's world. Poetry, images, sounds, video, music, science, facts – each portal leads to a unique, and sometimes oblique, online experience.

QR Code


The tiles would be placed throughout the village, affixed to nooks, crannies, walls, doorways and other locations as a distributed art work to be discovered and explored by curious visitors. Visitors' engagement to locate and identify the tiles add a serendipity to the exploration, leading visitors through a wandering discovery of the village –with a heightened observation.

distributed placement
"A tangle of houses whose image changes in that play of light and shadow, voids and volumes, which varies as the sunlight radiates onto the dwellings during the day, making the “cluster” a vigilant entity in continuous, suggestive dynamism."

A Few of the Many Eyes...

The following collection of 12 tiles are examples of treatment – the QR codes connect to sample content to be further developed.

The Recursive Gaze


The Eyes of the Many turns the eye back onto itself. The object becomes the subject of a celebration of the multitude of non-human eyes observing the world alongside us. The project invites a multitude of observing eyes into our midst as a symbolic presence in our domain which also act as portals into theirs.

Anonymous | Trompe l’Oeil of an Etching by Ferdinand Bol | The Metropolitan Museum of Art