A Portrait of M. Lomonosov:
On The Utility of Glass

A GPS Portrait by Larson Shindelman for Geek Picnic, St. Petersburg, Russia, 2016

Project Catalog (PDF)

The project catalog outlines the conceptual framework and instructions for participants to complete the artwork. PDF download here.

Graphic Design courtesy of Julie Spivey

Walk the GPS Course

Load this path in the Map My Walk app to participate in the interactive artwork: http://www.mapmywalk.com/routes/view/1113204112 

Full instructions in the PDF Catalog.


Let us think for a moment about glass. Lomonosov devoted a portion of his illustrious scientific career to the study of glass, and produced the technology to bring glass production to Russia, the first person to take production out of Venice. The arrival of glass represented luxury, the future, aspirations driving us forward into a bright future filled with light. 

Now let us think of it today.  As the screens of our phones, our tablets, and our computers. Light comes through, as before, though this time from behind instead of from above. The surface of our devices transformed into a technological looking-glass, our fingers sliding smoothly across the membrane of the Matrix. 

In 2005, Steve Jobs walked into a glass factory in New York State and ordered one ton of as-then-to-be perfected glass. Corning had been working on it since 1960, in use already in automobiles, aviation, and the pharmaceutical industry. Jobs wanted it ultra thin, imagining his new device, the iPhone, and the hands tapping the surface, stirring the light within. 

This new Gorilla Glass replaces the silicates Lomonosov developed with potassium ions, the greatest evolution in utilitarian glass production in two hundred years. Fingers skate across the surface, summoning functions beyond even Lomonosov’s dreams. 

Pick up your phone. Touch the glass screen. This glass is used in 4.5 billion devices today, enough that half the world’s population could touch the membrane.    

Two hundred and fifty years collapses in the touch of the cool material surface. 


Using Format