images by Kunning Huang
video by Ilana Harris-Babou

Needy Machines presents a new body of video and sculpture that explores the emotional and physiological entanglement of wellness marketing, AI-powered smart homes, and consumer product design on perceptions of self and metrics of health. Short and suggestive videos play behind smart mirrors, their scale suggesting the form of a medicine cabinet. A visual and aural mix – including ambient meditation music, health advice written as poetic text, urgent calls for emotional support, and CAPTCHA imagery – offers ambiguous and contradictory instructions to the viewer who is implicated in the reflective surface of the mirrored screen.


I question what defines healthy in today’s environment, particularly for women and minority communities. The videos probe whether networked appliances and digital applications can promote intelligent choices for health and well-being, and how these “smart’ and interactive machines increasingly live alongside us in intimate spaces of the home. Wall relief sculptures combine cast beauty products and trendy bathroom tile with the clay imprint of “swipes” and “taps” similar to the gestures associated with touch screens.

Review by Jackson Arn in the New Yorker
Review by Dessane Lopez Cassell in Topical Cream