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 explored the relationship between the human and the non-human, using the mobile device as an example. The performative installation questioned the use and value of mobile devices in our day-to-day life. The core thought was to trigger a rethinking of how non-humans are treated. Do we know their needs?

The work was made up of different parts, incorporating the different fields of expertise of the seven group members. It combines performance, sound, light and different materials to create an interactive experience. We live in a digitalised society in which our mobile devices accompany our everyday life. To some extent they can be understood as an extension of our body and mind. Device Spa 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-humans are distinguished from humankind. 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 the wooden box. Inside, the phone was treated by five pairs of hands with five different tools for one minute and then returned to the owner.

A performative installation by

Leal CHEN Zhenglang
Dance Choreography, The Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts
Trends & Identity, Zurich University of the Arts
Curatorial Studies, Zurich University of the Arts
Rae LEI Xuan
Dance Choreography, The Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts
Rose LI Zi-Rui
Visual Arts, Academy of Visual Arts, Hong Kong Baptist University
Joe MA Kam Leung
City University of Hong Kong, School of Creative Media
Media Art/Moving Images, City University Hong Kong