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Information Experience Design (MA)

Aijia Sun

Aijia Sun is a designer and artist with a keen interest in the complex systems interwoven between data environments and physical spaces. With a human-centric and nature-oriented approach, Aijia explores mixed domains within the context of technology. Her work involves assembling different technologies and systems, as well as constructing narrative structures between various perceptions. By remixing power relationships, Aijia reveals new or hidden landscapes.

Sun's work, including "If You Could See the Sky," manifests her exploration of human and technology relationships. Through her art, she invites audiences to delve into the intersections of our physical world and the vast data-driven environments, finding the hidden romance and redefining power dynamics within these intricate systems.

In 2021, Aijia Sun initiated the "Melting Myth" art project (formerly known as "Natural Faker"), which was honored with the Lumen Prize HUA in 2022.

Bachelor's degree in Visual Communication from the Central Academy of Fine Arts and a Master's degree in Information Experience Design from the Royal College of Art.

Aijia Sun

The artwork "If You Could See the Sky" offers an exploration of the complex interplay between humanity and technology, scrutinizing their ethical implications and existential conundrums. It employs artificial intelligence learning systems and surveillance mechanisms to create an engaging environment where machines and viewers gaze at the sky together, subsequently revealing a hidden, parallel celestial sphere. The juxtaposition of these two skies manifests as a metaphorical interplay between human empathy and the boundless imagination embodied by artificial intelligence.

In a time where data holds the power of strategic capital, the artwork delves into the intriguing concept of the "Black Stack" as introduced by Benjamin Bratton. The "Black Stack" is a sprawling ecosystem created by planetary-scale computing, where the roles of the "machine" and the "user" are inextricably entwined in a complex hierarchy. This intricate dynamic blurs the lines of identity, leading to a whirlpool of potential crises and a fascinating reconfiguration of symbiotic relationships.

The piece employs the sky as a potent symbol, layered with metaphors and rich in poetic resonance, to delve into the hidden romance that lies beneath the dome of the sky or "in the cloud." It's a quest to unravel the ethereal charm that shrouds our technologically-dominated existence.

"If only you could see what I've seen with your eyes" — Blade Runner

The sky captured by surveillance camera
The Sky Captured by Surveillance Camera
Surveillance camera
Surveillance Camera

If you could see the sky

Take a deep breath, and transport yourself to a moment when you found tranquility in the infinite canvas of the sky above. Were you captivated by the transient beauty of a cloud, or lost in the vast stretch of unending blue? Consider the countless dreams and peaceful moments that came to life within your relaxed gaze. Now contrast this with the act of observing a screen, where your gaze, after a brief dance on its surface, is promptly converted into streams of data code and sucked into the nebulous, shadowy realm we call the "cloud."

As we stand at the edge of a future, where technology proliferates much like life did during the Cambrian explosion, we find ourselves inextricably interwoven within this digital wilderness. Navigating these murky waters, I employ AI technology as an instrument to shed light on the intersection of human observation and harvested viewing data. With AI's lens, I invite "users" and "machines" to collectively gaze upwards, unveiling a once concealed, now resurfacing sky. This "celestial spectacle" is the product of the machine's primary observations and a fusion of myriad human viewing data. One can't help but wonder if this is a dream conjured by AI in its moments of 'rest', or perhaps, a shared illusion spun by the threads of technology and humanity.

Inhale deeply once more, and direct your gaze towards the sky again. Can you reconnect with the feelings and revelations that once stirred within you upon observing the vast heavens? However, the confluence of countless rivers is an existential question that humans and machines must face together.

If You Could See The Sky - Demonstration Video
Launch Project
If You Could See The Sky - Demonstration Video
the sky


Screens, Surveillance camera, Host and Cables
Process 1

Methodology and Technical Execution

My work begins with the collection of hundreds of data sets (and growing) representing people's gaze coordinates on screen surfaces during their everyday interactions with electronic devices. This corpus of human viewing behavior serves as a training set for AI, enabling it to learn and emulate to some extent the act of human observation.

Drawing parallels with my previous exploration of the sky, this gaze data now becomes the fuel for a novel representation of our shared celestial expanse. By employing a surveillance camera as the 'eye', I invite the trained AI to look up and observe the sky overhead.

What results from this AI-powered skyward gaze, after careful artistic processing, is a generated parallel sky—a digital reflection of our natural firmament. This resultant skyscape represents a melding of human perceptual data and machine learning, creating an alternate view of our sky, seen through the lens of AI. Much like the concept explored in the previous work, this serves to further illustrate the intertwining of human and machine perspectives and the profound questions such dynamics raise about our shared existence and perception of the world.

Process 2
Process 3
Heat map of eye-tracings
Burning: the New Sun - Demonstration Video
Launch Project
Burning: the New Sun - Demonstration Video

Burning: the New Sun

In our contemporary societies, the notion of limitless renewable energy has been heralded as the deus ex machina—the miraculous solution to our global resource crisis. This trend has inspired a plethora of innovative technologies, spawned new social organizations, and given rise to profitable business groups. Yet, it's crucial to question the uncritical acceptance of such 'unlimited' resources—a concept that holds the potential for myopia and irrationality. While these developments undoubtedly promise transformative change for global lifestyles, they may also veil untapped or unanticipated repercussions.

Taking a cue from the ancient Chinese tale of Kuafu Chasing the Sun and extending it to our current technologically-driven and capitalistic energy systems, we observe a common thread of consumption, or rather 'burning', inherent in our relationship with the sun. In this work, guided by principles of new animism, I devise a contemporary burning ritual—an experiential performance articulated through technological media and network data. The intent is to bring to light potential environmental and ethical quandaries born from the intertwined forces of capital and technology, painting a speculative picture of a probable future.

To substantiate this project, I've compiled data from the official websites of the world’s top 20 new energy companies as of 2022. Leveraging web crawler technology, I've orchestrated frequent automated visits to these sites, mining their corporate jargon for randomly selected texts and phrases. This harvested data coalesces into an evolving tapestry of corporate slogans that is continually updated. In conjunction, these phrases are fed into an AI algorithm, generating a dynamic image of the sun that morphs in response to these updates. The resulting visual manifestation symbolizes the oscillating and uncertain future of renewable energy under the influences of commercial and technological forces.


OLED screen, ipads and poster




The tapestry’s pattern derives from the texture map used in the creation of the sun in the parent artwork. In 3D modeling, a texture map is a 2D image that wraps around a 3D object, giving it surface detail - color, texture, reflectivity, and other characteristics. By transforming the 2D texture map back into a physical artifact, I explore the interplay between the digital and physical worlds, highlighting the often overlooked materiality of the digital.

The unfolded sun in the tapestry represents a sun that has been decoded and laid bare by the mechanisms of technology. The digital sun, typically seen as a sphere, has been 'unwrapped' onto a flat plane. This deconstruction echoes the disassembly and examination of our current energy consumption practices, brought about by the digital revolution and our incessant quest for renewable energy resources.

Just as the texture map gives form to the virtual sun, our collective actions and attitudes shape our shared energy future. By laying the sun bare in a tapestry, this piece invites the viewer to consider their role in the grand scheme of energy consumption and to reflect upon the interwoven complexities of our relationships with energy, technology, and the environment.