Design +
Creative Technology


Leah Willemin
Design + Creative Technology

Isolation Machines

Walnut, 3D printed PLA, optic fiber, arduino-controlled. All steps, including fabrication, 3D modeling, programming, and photography done by me.

The larger robot has three tiers of ribs that move in and out, as if breathing. If a performer is standing within the structure, the bottom two tiers of smaller ribs sense her breathing and the machine breathes along simultaneously.

Machine 1 senses when the wearer lowers her head, and responds by pulling the wearer's shoulders up. Machine 2 slowly pulls the wearer's hand into a fist.

Both small machines are wired with lights that pulse according to the wearer's heartbeat.

In this piece, I’m addressing the way technology mediates and externalizes people’s relationships with their own physicality. The wearer’s breathing is made noisy and very visible: they experience their own externalized biology, and the self-consciousness of calling attention to themselves by mere breathing. The wearer must contend with the discomfort of being surveilled and taking up space even as they breathe: the minimum action required for their survival.

Other viewers may surveil the person’s breathing as well, forcing them to encounter intimate biological data about another person.