Edition 2019, TC 2019

Device Spa

A performative installation by Rose Li Zi-Rui, (Visual Arts, Academy of Visual Arts, Hong Kong Baptist University), Rafael Gil Cordeiro (Trends & Identity, Zurich University of the Arts), Riar Rizaldi (Media Art/Moving Images, City University Hong Kong), Brooke Jackson (Curatorial Studies, Zurich University of the Arts), Leal Chen Zhenglang (Dance Choreography, The Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts), Rae Lei Xuan (Dance Choreography, The Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts), Joe Ma Kam Leung (City University of Hong Kong, School of Creative Media).


Do I look happy today?
What is more relaxing to me – high or low battery?
What are my senses?
Do I like to be held?
Do I want a screen protection?
Do humans ever listen to me?
Do I like humans?
What are my identities?
Where do I come from?
What is my favourite season?
Can I make love?
Do I want a long-distance relationship?
Do I like to sleep with humans?
Do I like it when a human gets undressed?
Do I mind if a human has another phone?
How do I feel when a human watches porn?
Do humans ever think of what I need?
Do I like to be put in a backpack?
Will I be dropped on the floor today?
How am I?
Should I take a selfie?
Do I like games?
Can I try wireless charging?
Where will I go when I die?
Can I standby forever?


The Device Spa explores the relationship between human and non-human, using the mobile device as an example for it. The performative installation questions the use and value of mobile devices in our day-to-day lives. The core thought is to trigger a rethinking of how our non-humans are treated. Do we know their needs? The work is made up of different parts, incorporating the different fields of expertise of the seven members. It combines performance, sound, light and different materials to create an interactive experience. We live in a digitized society where our mobile devices accompany our everyday life. To some extent they can be understood as an extension of our body and mind. The work explores this relationship and questions it.


The first step was to outline the topic human/non-human and narrow it down. We started by finding multiple definitions and asking about how non-human is distinguished from human. We then started exploring different fields of the topic. As a common ground we isolated the topic of shifting perspectives. Through small exercises, discussing, researching and presenting within the group, we decided what our final work should be composed of. An important component of the group work was a splitting into smaller working groups that assumed different tasks according to their interests and abilities. Constant consultation with the whole group and compromise
between different opinions was at the heart of our work. Originally, we agreed to keep discussing in the group of seven, but left it open to splitting up in case the process led us there. In the end we all had a similar idea and wanted to realize it together. One of the main challenges was to have seven people with different backgrounds, educations, ideas, languages and expertise, and to find a way to incorporate all of these.

Result/State of Play

The result is on the one hand a screen showing a chat of devices sending each other questions from their points of view. These led to the second part. A box that created a room inside the exhibition space. The visitor could slip in their phone through a slot and enter. Inside, the phone was treated by five pairs of hands for one minute and returned to the owner.