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‘Eye of Sauron’ appears on Salesforce Tower

“Darker than the vast shades amid which it stood, the cruel pinnacles and iron crown of the topmost tower of Barad-dûr”

As the sun set on Halloween, the video art display high atop Salesforce Tower ditched its usual routine in favor of a giant red eye, lidless and wreathed in flame—the spitting image of the Eye of Sauron featured in JRR Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings and its mega-popular film adaptations.

In October, a petition organized by San Franciscan Quinn Reilly first pitched the idea of a Tolkien topper for the city’s tallest building, attracting over 10,000 signatures.

On Wednesday, Reilly organized a viewing party on a nearby rooftop while remaining coy about whether or not—and how—anybody had talked building owner Boston Properties into going along with the idea. [Update: Via email, Reilly credits artist Jim Campbell, who designed the tower’s video art installation, for making the dream a reality Halloween night.]

“We can neither confirm nor deny whether anything will happen with the Salesforce Tower on Halloween, but just in case, we’re going to gather,” the event write-up read.

The image on top of the tower was similar to distinct from the visual effect feature in Peter Jackson’s Tolkien-based movies, which has become the popular image of the Eye in popular culture.

Possibly Boston Properties wanted to put their own spin on Tolkien’s imagery—or possibly they just didn’t want to get sued for appropriating footage from Jackson’s films.

In The Lord of the Rings, the eye represents the watchful gaze of Sauron, the books’ disembodied demonic villain, and appears atop a tower of similar proportions.

Normally the display atop Salesforce Tower displays the work of artist Jim Campbell, who designed the towering installation.