Culturing is a microbial sculpture existing as the experience of Asian American racial dissociation as defined by intergenerational conflict inside the home, and the external pressure of assimilation. A glass tank becomes a space for a kombucha scoby to contend with the confines inherent of the home and the external fabric of Western society. Separating the two environments will cause a tear in the forming structure.

As a child of diaspora, inherited cultural tradition and the social values of the environment and society I live in often contradict. This phenomenon results in racial dissociation, a documented collective grief in Asian Americans.

Using a 3d-printed representation of a home, a glass container becomes a place for a symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast (scoby), to grow.  As time passes, a mat of bacterial cellulose encapsulates the room and the pieces within, preserving it but also obscuring the details. The process of fermentation becomes cultural preservation, much like what is expected of the falsely monolithic Asian American individual.

We see the flawed and conflicting nature of this identity with the introduction of the cheesecloth, a mainstay in many fermentation processes.  This barrier ensures the sterility of the microbial community inside, but also limits the growing scoby, which soon fuses to the fabric itself. Separating the two environments will cause a tear in the forming structure.

AMNIOTIC FLUID –short film, 3 min, 7 seconds

AMNIOTIC FLUID  places the disorderly apartment of the artist, an Asian American subject, in juxtaposition with images of bacterial cellulose growing in containers. As time passes, yeast and bacteria encapsulate the container and any items within. A similar sense of rootlessness and displacement happens in the mess of the artist’s apartment. AMNIOTIC FLUID asks why every space that the artist lives in feels tighter than it is.

CULTURING — sculpture, glass tank, cheesecloth, 20 cm x 20 cm x 20cm

CULTURING is a microbial sculpture existing as the experience of Asian American racial dissociation as defined by intergenerational conflict inside the home, and the external pressure of assimilation.


Presented as a 2022 ITP Thesis project

After a pandemic wipes out most of the human race, political boundaries as we know them are now destroyed. New powers brandish science as irrefutable authority, and those in charge declare that individuals all must be subject to regular biometric tests in order to determine new territories. In this world, the gut microbial bio environment has turned into the new boundaries that separate people.

In this microbial-focused world, the societally outcast are desperate to change their gut ecology to gain access to the rest of society, so an older way of food preparation is brought back to the spotlight.

Every Outsider rushes to produce their own fermented foods in hopes of taming their gut microbial composition. The borders tighten, but the practice of fermentation grows. Taking the homemade fermentations, those socially excluded reflect on the unfairness of their situation and the futility of hope to be able to pass through the borders. Fermented tea cannot solve their problem, but it represents the growth of the people despite their oppression.

The new generation of Outsiders decides to wear representations of probiotics through masks and makeup. They’ve already been marked by their internal microbes, so these demonstrations are performative, bringing to the surface the identity that they cannot control.

SECONDARY INSPECTION is an ongoing sculpture series that features speculative future artifacts that present fermentation and biomaterials as a resistance culture of the future.

Passport in collaboration with Echo Tang.

Teeth dreams—or dreams where your teeth fall out—are a common anxiety dream. We often socially expect everyone to have every single tooth as a sign of good health. We pay money to get our natural teeth bleached, straightened and aligned—fake teeth if we’re missing a few, or we have weak or imperfect ones.

Teeth falling out can be a sign of death and decay: it is a visible sign to others that something is going wrong with the body.This interactive dental model plays with the idea of disembodied teeth and audio about body anxiety. In an intimate, confessional style, the project asks how we contend with the experience of having an ever-changing physical body.

Subjects were given a list of prompt questions, with the instructions to self-record. I wrote that the questions were more a set of prompts to think about, and not necessarily a rigid set of questions that had to be answered:
  1. How do you feel about aging and growing old? What affects you more, the physical or mental aspect of aging?
  2. Would you give up time in your life to change something about yourself physically?
  3. What does the word “body” mean to you? How do you view your own body?
  4. If and when you are intimate with someone, do you mostly think about their body or do you think about your own?
  5. How does your own physical body relate to your identity? Do you feel represented by your body?
  6. What body-related milestones or events in the past gave you anxiety (for example, period, first physical intimacy, childbearing, wisdom teeth)? What body-related milestones or events in the future give you anxiety?
  7. How often do you feel physical pain? How much do you associate your body with your physical pain?
  8. What parts of your body function below standard?
  9. How often do you feel weighed down by your body? How often do you feel weightless in your body?

I created this project in response to a heightened awareness of my body and its physical limitations.

Created with Arduino and p5.js

BATHROOM TRIPTYCH features a trio of face filters in a series meant to be displayed in a tri-fold mirror format. The filters play off of the psychological  “madonna-whore complex,” in which subjects find themselves at a conflict between sexual desire and love, where one contradicts the other. In a patriarchal society, it’s easy to recontextualize this duality as the double-standard that women live by, and the idea that women are either matronly figures or sexual figures, and never both.

In this triptych, the face filters play off of the “wearing” of makeup or facial adornments to fit into these standards that society. The center “mirror” creates the illusion of the standard face tracking mesh, evoking the sense that society is always watching and analyzing women, even in passive ways.

Custom ARkit app development by Echo Tang
Custom 3D asset design by Morgan Chen