Personal Statement, 2016

Computation is a space where language meets mathematics and logic meets electricity. I create poetic interventions through coding and hacking electronics. In my work “Handmade Computer,” hand-making circuits from discrete electronic components is a practice devoted to the history and craft of computation. There is an elegance in the abstraction and repetition of computation that I can only describe as poetry. The computer is not a neutral object for aesthetic contemplation. Instead, it is a site of contested politics, and of precarious life. It is a massively large and abstract machine that’s operating by the logic of the capitalism. When our lives are so profoundly affected by algorithms and programs, what are the acts of resistance or dissent that preserve our morality, our humanity? I cofounded the School for Poetic Computation to explore these questions.

For me, drawing is a mode of working. When I sketch an idea quickly, I translate the idea into form. When I work with code and digital fabrication tools, I improvise to create new forms. I use my technical skills in collaborations with many artists and activists. For me, collaboration is an exercise in coexistence, it is a chance to learn about different ways of perceiving the world. For example, through collaborating with Christine Sun Kim, I became inspired to both work with sound and get involved with the deaf community. Together we created “Future Proof,” a performance about seven imagined futures. Each future is represented by a motorized wind chime which makes sound in different frequencies. Through our ongoing collaboration, I got inspired to start teaching coding to deaf students in “Signing Coders.”

My work is an invitation to engage in a friendship, either momentarily or at length.“I am your friend,” I wrote on a picket sign during while participating in the Occupy Wall Street protests. Friendship is an intimate form of democracy, it is based on trust between people. My work is often presented with a series of public events, lectures, and performances. For example, “Speakers Corners” was a solo exhibition of mine, participants are encouraged to interact with objects, furniture, and devices to activate the exhibitions. The objects oscillate between their utilitarian functions and poetic suggestions. The installation offers a context for a new conversation.

In my teaching, I think of myself as a companion to a student’s journey. I help students learn how to learn. I honor the honesty between teacher and student. I make myself available for others through teaching. I balance teaching technical materials and conceptual challenges. I hope to bring a non-binary world view to the classroom, a space for arguments. Recently, I started the “Uncertainty School” to teach art to students with different types of disabilities. By the engaging with the students, I’m unlearning the concept of disability and the social construct that’s built to preserve the normalcy. My work and teaching is a proposal for a common space and time with others.