Artworks \ Made in Taiwan | 台灣製造

Made in Taiwan | 台灣製造

Artificially designed porcelain sculptures

Made in Taiwan | 台灣製造, Chinese American Museum of Chicago [2023]

– In collaboration with Cathy Hsiao  –

The Apple iPhone is the world’s most popular handset and accounts for over half of the company’s sales. After Nancy Pelosi’s August 2022 visit to Taiwan, Chinese authorities began enforcing an old customs law that required Apple to put “Made in Taipei” on products or parts made in Taiwan including packaging boxes, shipping documents, labels, and export and import declaration forms. “Made in Taiwan” reproduces as porcelain sculptures the exact scale and design of the model of each iPhone currently available in the AppStore (12, 13 mini, SE, 14 Pro, and 14 ProMax) using artificial intelligence such as Midjourney, LEXICA and DaVinci as designers.

LEXICA_ [prompt]: iPhones made of asian porcelain and decorated with colorful floral elements.

We developed and produced speculative designs based on the iPhones available in Apple Store but using a marriage of traditional craft knowledge and technology driven design as the basis for our production model to create an object metaphorically representing the most advanced technology. Artificial intelligence as an anonymous collaborator also highlights a unique connection to porcelain, insofar as authorship is not foregrounded in the craft.

There is no single author of porcelain; it is the fruit of the artistic work of artisans over centuries. In similar fashion, AI as an algorhythm is the result of a database created from an aggregate pool of anonymous workers producing collective knowledge in a manner akin to generations of laborers contributing to a vast cultural lexicon of traditions. Furthermore, as part of our process we discovered that the AI database, with its reliance on human actors as its ultimate source of information also reproduced the same political biases censoring Taiwan as in the case of Apple.  The designs themselves are also predictive of AI biases of Asian culture, and the confusion between Chinese, Japanese, Taiwanese, and cultural ‘mistakes’ as well as other AI glitches are faithfully reproduced in porcelain. As a final step we reintroduce the banned “Made in Taiwan” label onto the porcelain itself in both Apple branding and in traditional Chinese seal text. Linking authorship and sovereignty in craftsmanship with politics and AI reinforces the usefulness of rethinking iPhones and digital technology as social and aesthetic products.

iPhone SE (3rd gen) [01.A2783]

iPhone 12 [01.A2403]

iPhone 13 mini [01.A2481]

iPhone 14 Plus [01.A2882]

iPhone 14 Pro Max [01.A2651]

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