"Love Tester"

PHOTOS.        BLOG.                  FACEMUCK.                            

"Love Tester" was an art installation for Burning Man 2015 ("Carnival of Mirrors"), by Matt Melnicki and crew from Berkeley, Reno, & Tri-Cities WA.
It was awarded an Honorarium Grant from Burning Man Arts! 

A sculpture of a spinal column with stylized vertebrae will be installed with a five-headed cobra on top. A kiosk at the bottom will allow participants to test their un-enlightenment (lack of meditative state) by holding a biosensor grip which causes chakra-colored lights to darken.

Burning Man is a sexualized environment where participants try to channel their intentions and extinguish their frustrations. "Love Tester" challenges participants to harness a meditative state amidst the sensory overload of our physical environment.

It is said Kundalini, a snake, lies coiled at the base of the spine, close to the sexual organs. Traditions of Tantra claim that meditation can clear blockages at each "chakra", thus permitting Kundalini to rise up the spine to the crown of the head.  This process of Kundalini Awakening represents the union of Shiva and Shakti, or "The Realization of the Absolute", an achievement of total consciousness.

The proposed installation is inspired by the vintage arcade cabinet, "Love Tester", where a grip is squeezed to cause a stack of rainbow light bulbs to rise up, to a level supposedly indicating a person's aptitude as a lover.  By keeping the name "love tester", we are calling into question the sexual vs spiritual aspects of love which are often obscured by desire.

In the spirit of Burner mischief, we have inverted the chakra color scheme. Thus, the "root chakra" of sexual desire will be at the top, with sinister red lights in the cobra eyes. This twist was inspired by the 2015 theme, interpreted as "confrontation with our distorted self-image".  Rather than trying to raise the lights and achieve enlightenment, participants will try to extinguish them, top-down, in an attempt to quell their desires.

WE ARE GOING TO BURN THIS PIECE!!!         Let's raise Kundalini!!!

  • Facebook Page (https://www.facebook.com/LoveTester.PublicArt)
  • Email List for Crew Members  (love_tester@googlegroups.com)
  • Support Camp Info  (possibly Hot Mayo, maybe join with Gamelan X?)
  • Progress Blog   (https://sites.google.com/site/mmelnicki/lovetester/blog)
  • PR Launch

CLICK HERE! >> for a link to my approved LOI (letter of intent).

CLICK HERE! >> for the Picasa photo album for this project.

  • Lighting design or consultation
  • Microcontroller & Biofeedback consultation
  • Cabinetmaker
    • or: vintage scout to locate a (broken) "Love Tester" cabinet
  • Optics expert (use lenses to make funnel-shaped lights)


  • Promotional Logo
  • Fire Mentorship


  • Wood is being cut!
  • Biofeedback circuitry is being developed


  • Biofeedback guru
  • Microcontroller guru
  • Lighting expert
  • PR manager
  • SWAG-maker
  • Fire Lead
  • Construction Lead
Subpages (2): blog electronics
Matthew Melnicki,
Jan 28, 2015, 9:34 PM