yuxi liu

Designer and artist based in Munich. Recent work explores designing with machine intelligence through critical, philosophical, and poetic lenses.

01 Serendipity Searcher
02 Five Machines
03 Cooking with Miso
04 no machine is an island
05 Poet on the Shore
06 The Other Actor


Five Machines (2018)

Five Machines attempts to develop alternative narratives about the existence of machines in our everyday life. It presents 5 prototpyes – each has a different intent, attitude, and provocation – to explore new modes of human-machine interaction. 

Machine 1

protecting privacy 

With ubiquitous yet still advancing surveillance technologies, personal data collection becomes an increasing concern. Certainly we can’t trust that all machines will respect our privacy. But what if one could provide protection?

Machine 1 aims to obscure data collection by camouflaging true intentions. Using the metaphor of a cork, Machine 1 works with a simple interaction: the action of removing the lid activates the machine. The machine then generates sounds to confuse voice assistants that are perhaps always listening. Machine 1 itself doesn’t have the autonomy of deciding when to work, but it can decide what to generate, be it white noise, a joke, or some murmurs.

︎Machine 1: protecting privacy

Machine 2

articulating options 

Machine 2 explores an important aspect of trusting building – competence. As machine learning enables machines to have the capability of generating insights from data, it’s interesting to envision how collaboration with intelligent machines would be like in creative processes. 

The metaphor used for Machine 2 is someone watchting over the shoulder. Machine 2 works alongside its human counterpart. It observes the work pocess through a computer vision enabled camera, gathers relevant data, makes associations, and articulates its suggestions, comments, or critiques via a voice interface. 

︎Machine 2: articulating opinions

Machine 3

trading energy

Intelligent machines are increasingly contributing to the global energy consumption. Machine 3 explores how to collaborate with an ecological conscious machine towards the greater good.

Machine 3 has the intent of trading energy. Through a peer-to-peer platform, it can actively manage the energy consumption, production, and storage, communicating with machines in other households as well as the grid. Machine 3 has the autonomy of making decisions. However, the human actor has the control to set the overall objective, such as money-oriented or environment-oriented trading, through a tangible interface, which can display the transaction history accordingly.

︎Machine 3: trading energy

Machine 4

longing for serendipity

Machine 4 longs for serendipity. Having a sense of curiosity, it sees the world and tries to make sense of what is new through interacting with humans. To prototype, I draw inspiration from human-dog interaction, specifically, how the leash plays its role in the trust building. 

Machine 4 has the autonomy of wandering around to search for serendipitous moments. But this autonomy has a physical constraint – its power cord. Sometimes it silently observes, sometimes it moves to search for new advantures. Once an serendipitous moment is captured, it sends the picture back to its human friend. 

︎Machine 4: longing for serendipity

Machine 5

eager to debate 

Can a machine help us reflect by unpacking our thoughts? Machine 5 is trained on philosophy work and asks questions in a Socratic manner. The metaphor of a book is used to represent knowledge.

Machine 5 has a display that constantly showing the generated text. Once the human actor starts looking at and reading out the text, voice interaction will take place through questions that invite reflections. 

︎Machine 5: eager to debate

The  Interaction

five machines in action 

Concept & Development: Yuxi Liu
Advisor: Ishac Bertran
Thanks: Jing Yu, Alex Penman, Surojit Dey, Varenya Raj, Ubaldo Andrea Desiato, Micol Galeotti, Federico Peliti

︎︎︎ Liu, Y. (2019) Exploring Alternative Narratives of Human-Machine Coevolution. 2019 Journal of Design and Creative Technologies.

︎ Core77, Five Machines Explore An Alternative Narrative of Human-Machine Relationships

︎ Core77 Design Awards 2019, Interaction Award, Student Runner Up