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The I Love You Project

Debbie Davies

This project is a social art project where people are videotaped saying “I Love You” in their native language using a microscope camera.

The I Love You Project® is a global interactive social art project in which a digital microscope camera is used to videotape human participants saying “I Love You” in their native language. The voices are recorded separately, combined with original music and videotaped images to create a multi-media installation. Portraits of participants are also part of the exhibition creating a mosaic of human faces.

The microscope camera creates unexpected portraits that play with skin tone, contrast, and light. The video plays with a delay, creating a dreamy pace.

This project has been conducted in Spain, Germany, and Ukraine. It is a collaborative effort incorporating photography, video, music, and sound. We hope to create a cross cultural visual dialog. The message is that the world is multi-cultural, and peace and love between people of diverse backgrounds cannot be achieved unless we start a one on one relationship with strangers.

Photographer Debbie T. Davies uses a digital microscope camera – actually a child’s toy – to record silent video of participants and shoots portraits. During the shoot she interviews the participants to understand their backgrounds, and what brought them to the country they currently live in.

Sound artists record the participants’ voices saying “I Love You” along with snippets of conversation and laughter, and composes a soundtrack that uses these voices and sounds combined with original music for the video.

The experience of videotaping people is part of the project. Subjects have their own emotional experience saying these three words to a stranger, at times in the presence of other people. Others hear their stories. Neighbors who never met come into the shoot location as strangers and depart as friends.

We conducted the first The I Love You Project® in Barcelona, Spain in the neighborhood of Raval in March 2011.  The exhibition was an immersive experience sharing the multi-cultural faces and voices of the people who live and work there. Participants represented eighteen different languages reflecting the diversity of Raval. This community experiences tension due to intolerance and crime, houses a large population of immigrants, and is predominantly working class. Through this project, we hoped to unite the members of the community, and show that change is accomplished through love. The result was a festive opening reception where many of the participants were reunited with each other, or met for the first time. We recorded 18 languages and 80 participants. New relationships were forged within the community. The exhibition helped become part of a catalyst for change within the community, as people began to connect and thus become a more united front.

In August 2012 we commenced The I Love You Project® in Germany. We shot subjects in Bockenheim (Frankfurt) and Giessen. This time we recorded 32 languages and 82 participants. The project continued in Berlin where there is a large Turkish community. We shot over 100 participants in June 2013. And the project continued on with more sessions in Germany.

In 2014 the project was conducted in Kyiv, Ukraine in a gallery converted from a former bunker, and on the Maidan which was still occupied after the recent revolution.
In 2016 the project finally found a permanent home for participation and exhibition at LiTE-HAUS Galerie + Projektraum in Berlin.