The letter “X” has signified a kiss—stamped at the bottom of letters and on the seals of envelopes—since the Middle Ages. Suchi Reddy kept this in mind: the founder of Reddymade Architecture and Design is the winner of the 2019 Times Square Valentine Heart Design competition, and the sculpture—the tallest in the annual competition’s 11 years—is a giant X (that glows by night).
In the video below, directed by Emanuel Hahn, Reddy explains the project’s inspiration. Competition finalists were to utilize as their thematic prompt Dr. Cornel West’s enduring quote from an Askwith Forum at Harvard Graduate School: “Justice is what love looks like in public. Tenderness is what love feels like in private.” Says Reddy, “What we wanted to do was come up with a shape that really expressed this creed. The shape of an X… references the triple-X history of Times Square, it represented a kiss since 1813. We also found that when we introduced a unifying element, like a circle, at the intersection of an X, it creates a heart shape—therefore announcing love.”
From below, or at a right angle, the negative-space heart is visible. As Times Square passersby move closer to the sculpture, it glows brighter; as they walk away, the light dims. The X’s motion sensors are activated by genuine, deliberate closeness, and the possibility of connection. The sculpture was unveiled on February 1, and will be on view in Times Square through the end of the month.