1st Place recipient

Ani Liu

I am a research-based artist. My work examines the reciprocal relationships between technology and its influence on human subjectivity, culture, identity. In my project oriented practice, each work involves a deep dive into a new body of research, resulting in new modalities of thinking and making. As such, I have utilized techniques ranging from sculpture, laboratory work, biometric sensing, perfumery, robotics, projection, and cell culturing. Reoccurring themes in my work include feminism, gender politics, synthetic biology, labor, robotics, AI, nostalgia and longing. My work imbues scientific processes with narrative and emotional expression, humanizing technology and blurring the lines between rational/emotional, hard/wet, human/machine, engineered/organic.

I often utilize the techniques of the topic I am researching to express the ideas behind the work. Each project usually takes months to years to research and complete, and can result in multiple pieces. For instance, “Mind in the Machine” explores the relationship between mechanized and human labor. For this project, a portrait of a factory worker was created by programming her machine to knit a according of her emotional state. Through an EEG brainwave sensor, her mood throughout a working day was recoded and translated through stitches of varying tensility.

Another project, “Real Virtual Feelings,” explores the materiality of emotional responses seated in the digital realm. This sculpture is programmed to emit a drop of dopamine for each “like” received on social media. This piece draws conduits between the virtual and physiological, the digital and molecular, simultaneously critiquing digital platforms while utilizing them.

Examining ways humans seek to understand themselves both through science and personal narrative, my sculptures explore how scientific protocols and engineering might be harnessed for emotional expression when freed from the confines of capitalist production.