Giant Interactive Heart Beats in the City

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Finally, those who say they ♥ NY have a chance to prove it. This year, in honor of Valentine's Day, a giant interactive sculpture in the middle of New York City displays just how much love there is in the heart of the city.

For the past several years, the Times Square Alliance has selected an architect to design a heart sculpture for the area to celebrate the lovey-dovey annual holiday. Past hearts included one glowing with apropos pink neon lights, an enormous sculpture from large blocks of ice and a 10-foot wide installation with pairs of rotating red fabric-covered loops held up by volunteers.

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This year's sculpture, called Big♥NYC, was unveiled this week. This time, the heart is 10 feet tall and made from 400 transparent vertical acrylic tubes lit by LEDs inside a large square base. Appearing to float inside is a red heart made of light. This glowing box also reflects the bright signs around it in Times Square at night.

Next to the sculpture, a silver console with a heart decal invites visitors to "Touch Me" — probably one of the few times it's okay do that in Times Square. One person touching the console sets the heart beating. The more people who join hands with or kiss the person touching the decal, the faster the heart beats and the brighter it gets. No one's saying exactly how this works, probably because it's more magical that way.

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"More people, more love, more light," the sculpture's site reads. Bjarke Ingels Group, an architecture and design group that has offices in New York and Copenhagen created the sculpture with help from Brooklyn-based fabrication studio FLATCUT_ and the media design firm Local Projects

Although the commercial onslaught of Valentine's Day usually inspires me to make fake gagging gestures like an eight-year-old during the kissy-kissy part of the movie, sweet interactive tech can win me over. Big♥NYC remains ready for love at 46th and Broadway through February 29.

Photo: The Big♥NYC installation in Times Square. Credit: Ka-Man Tse for the Times Square Alliance

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