This year marks the largest UNSW presence at Sydney’s Vivid Festival with a “kitsch Love-O-Meter" designed by UNSW students taking centre-stage as one of the Festival’s most popular installations.

I LOVE YOU, which is positioned at one of Vivid’s prime locations at Circular Quay, is a giant illuminated love heart that rewards couples with a light display according to how loudly they yell, “I love you” into a microphone.

BA Design Honours student Edison Chen came up with the concept and collaborated with fellow UNSW Art & Design Honours student Nila Rezaei and UNSW Engineering graduates Nathan Adler and Sam Cassisi, and Media Arts/ Computer Science Engineering students Tom Bremner and Jordan East to bring his idea to reality.

"I wanted the installation to be carnivalesque – like a kitsch love-O-meter,” says Chen. “We’re aiming for a sideshow alley meets Las Vegas wedding chapel aesthetic.”

Encouraging couples to take part in an extreme display of public affection is part of the installations appeal – the louder, more intense declarations of love display a brighter and more colourful pattern on the 3m x 3m heart.

“If their declaration is totally off the charts they’re rewarded with a special animation,” says Selena Griffith, Senior Lecturer and UNSW Engineering Scientia Experience Manager who is coordinating the project.

“One of the main ideas we want to get across is that love is open and accessible to all,” she says.


"I wanted the installation to be carnivalesque – like a kitsch love-O-meter," said BA Design Honours student Ed Chen, who came up with the concept for I LOVE YOU. Photo: Leilah Schubert

The installation has already been nominated for an Australian Lighting Industry award and is fast becoming the centre piece of this year’s Festival.

The giant love heart provided the back drop for Vivid’s opening ceremony and has received accolades from the Festival’s artistic director Ignatius Jones who told the Australian Financial Review, “I LOVE YOU is going to go off. It’s such a clever idea – and a simple one. Every year we get countless requests for proposals and these guys have nailed it”.

Vivid 2016, which opens tonight, marks UNSW’s largest involvement at the Festival with numerous staff and students taking part in the international event. The Festival attracted 1.7 million visitors to Sydney last year.

UNSW at Vivid

UNSW Built Environment’s Dr M. Hank Haeusler is chair of the Media Architecture Biennale  and Dr’s Scott Hawken and Hoon Han are co-convening the Smart Cities International Workshop and Symposium where Built Environment’s Professor Chris Pettit and PhD student Homa Rahmat will speak. Professor of Planning Practice Sue Holliday will present at an Urban Development Institute of Australia event Connecting Our City: Introducing the Urban Pinboard. UNSW Built Environment associate lecturer Eliot Rosenberg will exhibit Light Flurry  and associate lecturer Rebekah Araullo is exhibiting  Ptolemi while UNSW Computational Design students are exhibiting Participation+  

UNSW Psychology research fellows Dr Amy Reichelt and Dr Maureen Irish will discuss how work environments effect our brains with UNSW Medicine’s Professor Gordon Parker in a panel discussion showcasing  The Social Brain: Better Brain Health at Work

UNSW Science senior lecturer Michael Kasumovic and UNSW Built Environment Computational Design lecturer Dr Luke Hespanhol will speak at the ArtScience Soiree: Collaboration Across Disciplines. Dr Hespanhol is also exhibiting Silent Island, a collaboration with UNSW Art & Design senior lecturer Dr Ollie Bown.


"One of the main ideas we want to get across is that love is open and accessible to all." Photo: Leilah Schubert

Art & Design student Nila Rezaei is exhibiting Exterminia, a collaboration with UNSW Engineering graduate Nathan Adler.

Art & Design’s Professor Sarah Kenderdine will discuss how experiential environments can expand our understanding of art and culture at Art and Experiential Design: How Can Exhibition Design and Immersive Technologies Help Audiences Engage With the Past?

UNSW Art & Design’s Dr John McGhee will discuss the renaissance of virtual reality at Storytelling in a Virtual World

Professor Jill Bennett and Dr George Khut from UNSW Art & Design and PhD graduate Joy Dawn Leong will speak with Professor Katherine Boydell from the Black Dog Institute at the Big Anxiety Project

Paul Matthews from UNSW’s Creative Practice Lab is exhibiting You Spin Me Right Round and students from CREATE UNSW are exhibiting Mondrian Cube

The Michael Crouch Innovation Centre will host a hands-on workshop for children Light Up Your Future with Maker Skills: For Kids Big and Small

For the full program and other UNSW speakers please go to the Vivid website.