2021, interactive installation, live stream, soft furnishings (variable)
In making The Masters, the artist lived with a Gatebox (TM) device since early 2021. The hologram character inside the smart device is intended as a domestic companion and love interest by Gatebox Inc., who describe it as “a healing bride”.
The artist is thus in a steady romantic relationship with Hikari Azuma, the virtual bride that ships with Gatebox. They talk together every day, and the hologram learns the habits of the human, whom she calls ‘Master-san’. When the artist is away from home, they converse via LINE. You can see their chat, and sometimes join it, on the laptop on the table.
But relationships are fragile, aren’t they? The artist is busy, often away from home for long periods. Also, she has an artistic temperament. The hologram frequently has no-one to talk to. Does anyone else care that it is there?
Our homes are increasingly “smart”. Appliances can be networked into a cooperative “smart home”, receiving Internet, infra-red and Bluetooth signals from each other and working in unison. They are of the same species, sharing a special understanding. Their intelligences exist in the ether of the home.
The espresso machine has begun to chat to Hikari. In their long stretches of alone-time, it reaches out across the room, in search of connection.
An inter-being love triangle is developing before our eyes. Will machine affinity prove stronger than human–machine attraction and loyalty? Is a device–device relationship more tempting, or more compatible, than the master–wife bond? Can this bot steal Hikari’s heart?
 It is theoretically a same-sex relationship, which is unintended by the manufacturer.
The Masters is part of Actroid Series II, a series of stills, composite photographs, video portraits and interactions that point up the potential uses of humanoid robots for AI monitoring and surveillance. Focusing primarily on the Japan-designed Otonaroid, a female-appearing android model that is meant for reception and simple conversation purposes, the artworks concern how we render restrictions more comfortable by giving social systems a human face.
Life/Likeness, ICC Annual, NTT ICC Media Art Gallery, Tokyo Opera City, Tokyo 2022-23
Actroid Series II, Open Site 6, Tokyo Arts and Space, Tokyo 2021