It’s that time of year again. The candy and flowers will be purchased in unthinkable amounts, reservations for over-priced/hyped restaurants have long been booked (hopefully), and architects have their hand at the daft populist messages that make the cold mid-February air that much more oppressive. Sponsored by the Times Square Alliance, the annual “heart sculpture” project asks architects to re-envision the ubiquitous heart graphic as a interactive urban emoticon. This year it’s BIG, and the gooey statement for 2012, you ask? “More people = more love.”
BIG?NYC distills the blurry and flashy business of experiencing Times Square down to its constituent elements–namely, “movement, lights, the masses”–and reconfigures them in a tidy, monolithic package. The project is comprised of acrylic tubes arranged in a 10′-by-10′-10′ cubic volume and illuminated by a series of LEDs embedded in the base. At night,when the lights are activated, a deep red heart-shape glow will emanate from the dense grove of tubes. Sensors surrounding the installation collect energy from the footsteps of gathering visitors which is immediately converted into light, providing the project’s big payoff: “the huddled crowd makes the heart burn brighter. . . . A heart created from a collective cluster of individual constituents.”
BIG?NYC is the fourth in the Times Square Alliance-sponsored series of Valentine’s Day public art installations. Past winners include Gage/Clemenceau’s overwrought, Maya-inflected confection, Moorhead & Moorhead’s winking “Ice Heart” and Freecell’s curious ‘de-constructed’ take. BIG’s installation opens tonight and will run through the end of the month.