Kam Xue Jun
A Simulacrum | The Anthropomorphic Machine: The Vessel

Thesis Supervisor: Dr. Simone Shu-Yeng Chung

Human-centred Design

[h]umans are being defined through the artefacts that they design. Beatriz Colomina and Mark Wigley define ‘Human’ as an unstable category. They assert the interdependency of [H]uman with artefacts is what makes Human human. Artificial Intelligence exhibits the idea in which the Human is able to programme intelligence. N. Katherine Hayles explains the difference between the Human and the Machine mind is the mere difference in the set of algorithms. Yet, what define the Human from the Machine is the intelligence of taking control. Hayles‘ ideology on technologies stimulate transformation in humans reading pattern is in accordance to Max Tegmark’s plasticity of Life 2.0. 

Both exhibit the idea in which Human is in better control of own identity through the cultural evolution. This postulate a critique on Pierre Bourdieu’s taste culture that suggests judgement of taste dictates a permanent social identity and impedes social mobility. Thus, when humans are better with the help of technology, I wish to analyse the definition of Human-centred design in architecture when what stays constant is only the life form (body) that is bounded to the biological aspect of a human.


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Room Isometric Illustration with Collection of Patterns Drawn from Different Actions


Because isometric illustration can only illumine the distinct pattern, essentially, an analysis video is vital to visualise the dynamic pattern within the space. In any case, the hypothesis for this experiment is that the Human with the Machine should orchestrate a set of distinct life-style pattern, a structured practice with its distinctive body dimensions and taste.

Auto-Ethno & Ethnography Study:
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An study to dimension the Human and Machine (smartphone) interaction within a space was done for 1-week specifically for four body actions: sitting, standing, walking, and lying down. This study has its setting in the Human’s own space with ingrained habit and dispositions. 

Using P5.JS web editor to establish a relationship between human movement and it’s interaction with the smartphone. With the help of ml5 library, this study used a series of code to track and classify the Human’s  body motion.

The Flexibility of Identity

Illustration of Identity vs. Identities


When the Human creates smartphone as a self-reflection artefact, smartphone apps connotes the disposition of ‘taste’. This collaboration between the Human and the Machine through apps suggests an unstable body that is trying to extend itself beyond the physicality of space.

The Collection of Identities;
The ‘Sympoiesis’
(Haraway, 2016, p.33)

The Human is not just flexible for grasping information from up above the cloud but rather, it is flexible in its identity with its collection of identities. Consider again Bourdieu’s discussion on ‘taste’ where he postulates the ideology of social snobbery. In the current digital era, the Human is a juxtaposition of physical identity and virtual identities, an intermesh of both for its social identity. 

The clarification made is not that of a new kind of social identity. It is a better identity that could possibly blend the hegemony of the social classification as it is a better human with the ‘sympoiesis’ of identity. By ‘sympoiesis’, it is suggested that the collection of identities is contemporaneous with the flexibility of the fragmented identities which is not confined but self-defined.


To overcome inequality, first, the succinct statement must be brought into salience. With the Machine, the Human has to take control and utilise the information-intensive environment to unpack the social conditioning formula in order to be better in understanding of ourselves when distinction in pattern becomes a crucial lens for the socially relevant classifications in contemporary Singapore. “For the Singaporean, the state’s presence in everyday life is as persistent as air.” (Yenn, 2019)  

The Anthropomorphic Machine:
The Vessel

In acknowledging the ubiquity of smartphones and the situation of inequality in this contemporary bourgeoisie world, the thesis aims to trigger the awareness of the succinct situation, especially in Singapore where the bifurcated consciousness has been taken apart through the deemed ‘normal’ 5-steps life trajectory. The output of this thesis project – The Anthropomorphic Machine: The Vessel, an intelligent inhabitable membrane that aims to represent identities and the act of distinction; the extraction of inequality through taste.

... and its amorphous presence

The idea of The Vessel as an Anthropomorphic Machine where it consumes the Human and digests it to be a set of data. Movements are displaced as a set of algorithm, the food for the machine. The Machine is being possessed by the Human’s dimensions and it’s habits and interaction with the smartphone transposing the conventional idea of spatial dimension into the current digital age with digital habits. The amorphous presence is a reflection of the current society. Distinction in the Human; distinction in of the vessel.