Googly Eyes & Eyebombing – A Photographic Collection of my Favourite Encounters

On a recent visit to Tel Aviv whilst walking through the Carmel Market area one evening I came across a sign at a construction site:

The Hebrew text states it is compulsory to wear protective glasses. Seeing this well-worn sign with its additional shiny googly eyes was a decisive moment and I felt it was now time to finally select and publish a series of photographs I’ve been gathering on this theme since 2017.

Here are some more examples of public signage that has been adorned or vandalised, depending on your point of view, with googly eyes:

Public Toilet, Carnaby Street, 2020

Venetian Warning Sign, 2022

Double Hump Sign: Hampstead Heath, 2019

The Chabad Rabbi of Camden Town, who is familiar with my photographic work, sent me a photo of an ad campaign he’d seen on the London Underground that had been subjected to eyebombing, correctly intuiting that it was the sort of thing that might interest me. Here is his photo:

Eyebombing in Chalk Farm: Image by the Kentish Town Rabbi

After receiving the photo I went as soon as I could to the station at Chalk Farm only to find the advert had been cleaned up:

The next two images combine documentary street photography and abstraction:

Bus Stop Information with added sticker and Googly Eye

Public Telephone Booth with Torn Tart Card and Googly Eyes

In the above images I find there’s something surreal about the combination of political stickers or fragments of cards advertising sexual services with an all-seeing googly eye. There’s also humour and a touch of surrealism when googly eyes are used to subvert notions of beauty and style, as in the next series of shots:

Dental Surgery Sign, Covent Garden, 2017

Advertising Hoarding, Kings Cross, 2021

Customised outfit at London Colour Walk, June 2022

Googly eyes as fashion accessories have been around for a while – below a screenshot from the 1980s TV series Cheers, where waitress Carla Tortlelii regular wore fun earrings:

Monitor shot of Carla Tortelli in googly eyed earrings – from the 1980s series Cheers

Below a dog in a Halloween costume complete with googly eyed tiara seen in Kensington Gardens in October 2021:

Halloween dog, Kensington Gardens, October 2021

Next some eclectic shots featuring googly-eyes. Below, a customised representation of Theresa May at an anti-Brexit march, London 2019:

Ant-Brexit Demonstration with Goodly-Eyed Theresa May banner, 2019

Eyebombing and street art in New York:

Steet Art, NYC, 2017

Street Party with wheelie-bin sound system, Soho, 2022
Door Knocker, Kentish Town, 2017

Recently I’ve had an a couple of encounters with googly eyes that were ambiguous in that I wasn’t sure if what I was witnessing was deliberate eyebombing or a conscious choice:

Detail section of the back of a Van, Soho, 2022

Above, the back of a van belonging to a media abseiling company. Below, a display on a pub wall in central London seen earlier this year:

Detail of Pub Wall, London 2022

That’s all for now.

Ciao!

Warning Sign with googly eyes, Zattere, Venice, 2022


Also published on Medium.

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