Bildcredit: Chun Shao

Chun Shao

Chun Shao studied Fine Arts at the Academy of Art in Hangzhou in China and graduated from the School of Art Institute of Chicago in the Performance Department. In 2019, she received her PhD in Philosophy from the University of Washington at the Center for Digital Arts and Experimental Media. From 2014 to 2018, Chun Shao taught at the University of Washington in Seattle, along with numerous exhibitions, awards, and residencies. In 2019 she worked as FeralAIR at the Schmiede in Hallein and will return to Salzburg in 2020 as subnetAIR.


Artist Statement

My work explores the relationship between the human body and interactive technology. By hybridizing traditional handcrafting techniques with physical computing, I create enigmatic artifacts programmed to perform kinetic movements, sounds, and react to the human touch. Material wise, I have been developing silicone fabrics to present a skin-like tenderness, blurring the boundary between body and object.

My recent project, entitled Emotive-textiles, exhibits a series of interactive fabric manipulation samples. This work combines different hand sewing techniques with electronic components to create shaking ruffles, percussive beads, wiggling textures, “crying” pleats, and “breathing” stuffing. This work reinvents textiles as a soft and wearable interface, expressing affective messages triggered by touch.

Through transforming digital materials into tangible forms, I seek to create poetic connections between feeling and touch, data and story, handicrafts and computational systems.



The obsession for youth has a global impact on women living in different cultures and social conditions. We relentlessly consume make-ups, skin-care products, and beauty tools to chase a “forever young” dream. However, this cultural madness has been pouring a tremendous amount of harmful materials into the earth, as well as the human body. To reconcile with this abused fantasy of being ageless, I propose to create a series of interactive tapestries, made from cosmetic wastes, as a critical media reflecting on this social dilemma.

Referring to the ideal image of wrinkleless and tender skin, the textiles will be made from silicone-coated threads and fabrics (see Fig 1 & 2), colored by leftover beautifying powders/liquids. Combining traditional weaving methods with electronic textile techniques, the woven texture will be embedded with mini electronic components used in anti-aging devices, such as rotational/vibrating motors, mist-making disk, heating pads, etc. (see Fig 3) and hand-made soft sensors. Controlled by the embroidered microprocessors (see Fig 4 – left side), the actuators will be programmed to respond to various kinds of human touch, such as a felted crochet pressure sensor detecting a squeezing gesture or a stroke sensor detecting a gentle pat (see Fig 4 – right side). Therefore, I focus on exploring new aesthetics and visual expressions that emerged after a quasi-traditional and quasi-digital crafting process. The outcome of this project will be a textile room, curated to display the research process of gathering beauty wastes and transforming it into the resulting handicrafts.

Figure 1

Figure 2

Figure 3

Figure 4

Time: September/October


Future calls that might interest you:
FeralAIR Application till April 30th –
will go online early 2020 and look much like 2019:
Schmiede Hallein Application till May 31st
Salzburg Media Art Grant – till Feb.