Created as the 2022 Hybrid Body Lab Artist-in-Residence.

Social Prosthesis is a moving appendage designed as two headpieces made from rigid and soft structures. The soft skin of the prosthesis curls and contracts when triggered by touch on the face.

Social Prosthesis is made up of 3D resin print, silicone skin, and an embedded shape memory alloy circuit with capacitive touch.

Referencing the definition of prosthetic sociality, written by Mimi Thi Nguyen in the 2003 essay Queer Cyborgs and New Mutants, Social Prosthesis is an exploration of how technologies enhancing the human body create meanings that extend past the merging of biological and artificial—that must contest with the social and political contexts of its time.

Project Credits:
Artist: Morgan Chen (Hybrid Body Lab 2022 Artist-in-Residence),

Researchers in Collaboration: Jingwen Zhu, Prof Cindy Hsin-Liu Kao
Hybrid Body Lab at Cornell University

Photo Credits:
Makeup Artist: Morgan Chen
Photographer: Andrea Cheon
Model: Anna Paaske

This project is from Hybrid Body Lab Artist-in-Residence 2022. This residency is funded by the National Science Foundation and a Cornell University College of Human Ecology Engaged Research Grant.

For more information, and a detailed tutorial with process documentation, please visit the project page

︎Exhibited at theBlanc gallery, 8/26—9/5, NYC

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
Videography and editing by Justine Chen
Written and directed by Morgan Chen

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.


Exhibited at theBlanc gallery, 8/26/2022—9/5/2022, NYC 
Photo credit to theBlanc

Presented as a 2022 ITP Graduate Thesis project

︎Exhibited at First Instar, 5/28-5/29, NYC 

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

Named after the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol process that subjects foreign travellers to interview and verification at a port of entry, this science fiction project highlights the ways in which governmental and systemic policies perpetuate discrimination and prevent access and mobility based on racial, sociopolitical and socioeconomic divisions.

After a pandemic wipes out most of the human race, political boundaries as we know them are now destroyed. New powers 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.

The societally outcast are desperate to change their gut ecology to gain access to the rest of society, so an older method 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, the 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, makeup and  illegally traded goods. They’ve already been marked by their internal microbes, so these demonstrations are intentionally and markedly performative, bringing to the surface the identity that they cannot control.

Passport artifact created in collaboration with Echo Tang

Teeth dreams—or dreams where your teeth fall out—are a common anxiety dream. Socially, we practice cosmetic dentistry as a marker of beauty, but also as a marker 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—and a recurring personal nightmare about teeth.

Created with Arduino and p5.js