Love Circuit is an interactive installation piece that was made to encourage New Yorkers to engage with each other in a physical way.
Our group observed Washington Square Park for a few days and noted that although many people share the space with each other, they don't tend to engage with the people around them unless they came with them. We created Love Circuit in the hope that it would get people in Washington Square Park to get out of their comfort zone and maybe talk to people they didn't come to the park with.
I worked on the Love Circuit with Eric Jiang, Umi Syam, and Yihan Zhou for our Major Studio 1 course at Parsons The New School for Design. We designed, fabricated, and coded the installation as a group and installed the piece in Washington Square Park in New York City in October of 2014.
How it works
The installation utilizes a human circuit, which, when connected, turns on a sound and light display. We placed two, four-foot poles with conductive spheres on top of them about 5 feet apart - just far enough so that one person cannot reach them both to connect the circuit. When two people hold hands and hold one of the polls, the circuit is connected and the lights and sound play.
After some exploration, we decided to use a product by gadgITERATION called the Noise Maker, which has the functionality to create a human circuit, as well as an Arduino Uno. We then worked in the wood shop to create the stand for the heart sculpture and the two poles. To attach the circuit to the poles, we purchased drawer pulls that were conductive and attached two 10-foot wires from the noisemaker circuit to connect the two poles.
We then cut two large-scale (4-foot x 5-foot) pixelated hearts out of foam core, spray painted them red, and attached them to both sides of a box that we affixed to the third poll. We then incorporated multi-colored LED light strip into the circuit and wrapped it around the inside of the heart so light would shine from the inside of the heart.
Users did, in fact, use the installation to engage with each other
Overall, we found the project to be a success! Though the vast majority of people simply took photos of the installation, visitors to the park did end up engaging with the project and, in turn, each other in a more engaging way than we had previously observed! Users ended up having conversations with each other around the project and were surprisingly willing to hold the hands of strangers to get the project to work.
The time of day that users encountered the piece impacted the way they interacted with it
Time of day seemed to have a great impact on the way that people approached the project. Though many people willingly engaged with the project, we found that at night, some passersby were worried about the installation shocking them, but once they saw others trying it, they became less afraid and would usually engage with it. In the daytime, however, none of the participants or passersby brought up a fear of the project shocking them.
And here's a video that the lovely Yihan Zhou made detailing our process: