If no one looks at it, is it art?

musings about art and writing in Lower Manhattan

M. M. De Voe
3 min readApr 7, 2022


Photo by CHUTTERSNAP on Unsplash

For months now I’ve been passing by this marvelous public art project called the XO Love project (the interactive part of the project is you cross your arms in fists across your chest, take a photo, and post it.)

Crossed arms are American Sign Language for “love.” The artist is from New Jersey, Daniel Anderson.

It has a physical component called “XO World.” The installation is beneath 1WTC facing the West Side Highway and it is shiny! And pretty! And makes people happy! It’s message is inclusion and love for all.

I took this photo….and about forty other ones. It is so hard not to snap a photo of this eye-catching sculpture.

You’ve already missed the sister installation (which I also loved) — it was inside the Oculus and was called “XO Play”

The globe and the jacks duplicate the huge XO at the base of One WTC. Nice touch. Also, the globe is just as shiny and colorful…..but tiny. And again, people took photos of it, and of themselves in front of it.

Both installations were huge and featured globes that were shiny blue marbles and very shiny silver “jacks” ending in fists.

When I first saw XO Play I was taken by how lovely it was that children were not the focus (they had no color, whereas the globe and the jacks were eye catching) — and I was also intrigued that the children seemed so serious and intense. Not angry, but not goofy and laughing either. These were not kids playing games or competing. These were kids faced with a global problem and asked to solve it.

The message is clear: humanity is playing games with the earth — and yet if we all get along like children do while playing games, then maybe our interactions can be peaceful and — dare we dream? — even cooperative.

These installations are captivating. I have never seen either installation without people in front taking photos. It makes me wonder if art that people are compelled to photograph is better in some way than art that is briefly admired but not photographed.

And what does it say about art when people want to be IN the photo with the art?

Is there a writing equivalent to photographing art? Excerpting? Highlighting? Quoting? Sharing? If words compel you to interact with them, are they somehow better than those you consume privately that might haunt your dreams or be silently recycled into new ideas down the road a few weeks?

Does it matter if nothing you write is ever shared with anyone? Is it still worthwhile to write?

What is the most interactive thing you have ever done to a set of words?



M. M. De Voe

Fictionista, collector of obscure awards, admirer of optimists in the face of dread. Author of Book&Baby, an acclaimed guide for writer-parents. mmdevoe.com