Brooklyn, NY

A Taiwanese American artist aiming to create memorable, meaningful, and joyful interactions, while exploring how people unconsciously communicate with each other.


Web Store — Fall 2024
2 MONTHS — 12.07.2021



An art installation that creates a two-person experience of a phone call, communicated with breath instead of voice.

What is missing from the communication between people these days? What would be the alternatives to feel the presence of others? This is what Whisper Phone wants to explore.

About This Project

The pandemic has severely cut off physical interaction between people and accelerated the use of technology: Zoom has replaced physical classrooms and offices, and facetime has reduced the need for family and friends to meet face-to-face. Technology created seemingly faster and more efficient ways of communication, but simultaneously brings a deeper sense of loneliness. Sights and sounds become the primary way we recognize others. The invisible and inaudible signals between people are gradually ignored.

What is missing from the communication between people these days? What would be the alternatives to feel the presence of others? This is what Whisper Phone wants to explore.

American visual artist Joseph Grigely once described in his 1995 work: "Speech is shaped Breath." Inspired by this, The Whisper Phone is designed as an interactive installation with the theme of sculpting the air, allowing words to transform into breath. The two people on either side of the Whisper Phone can directly feel the rhythm of breath and focus on the tactile experience rather than the sound. Like a party, the loud music with dim lights drowns out the voices of people shouting to each other, leaving only the intimate vibrations in between.

Presentation Setup for ITP/IMA 2021 Winter Show (left) and class presentation (right).

Concept sketches and circuits diagram for the whisper phone.


We first tested the air phone component with an air pump. We used a fish tank air pump and put a tube behind the phone. We manually changed the air from the air pump with an AC Fan Speed Controller. It works really well! We test this out with our friends (Video on the left). After connecting the air pump with relays and Arduino, we tested out two-way communication with our friend (also an amazing artist) Isabelle Rieken (video on the right). During the process of testing, we constructed simplified phone booths for the ITP/IMA 2021 Winter Show (video on the bottom).

Working in progress videos for the whisper phone.

Evaluation & Next Steps

After some user testing and observations, we hope to shape the project with a theatrical take on the interaction. Some ideas we would like to implement in the future are:

  • Overhead Neopixel lighting, responsive to mic accelerometer data
  • Ring ring sound effect from speakers in a phone box
  • Some nice, quiet, distanced, maskless staging

We are hoping to find ways to continue exploring this project.

🙏 Special Thanks To Vivien Kong, Yeseul Song, Aidan Massie, Faith Zeng, Christine Lai, Isabelle Rieken, Julia Fernandez, Timmy Zhou, Shiva Viswanathan, Jiwon Yu, Ethan Printz, David Rio, Noah Pivnick, Molly Ritmiller, Eric Kalb, Daniel Johnston, Leia Chang, Shirley Wu, Alex Vargas, Olivia Yin, Dan O'Sullivan, Allyson Green, and all the people who had helped in any kind of ways (in random order).