Yanxiu (Ally) Luo

Designer · Writer
Yanxiu Luo (Ally) is an interdisciplinary designer and writer whose interests lie at the intersection of conceptual systems, anecdotal narratives, and documentary cinema. Her research-based practice often explores the overlap between hardware and wetware through a variety of media, including filmmaking, installation, and printed matters.
Thesis Faculty
Rae HsuEthan SilvermanFran HoepfnerNancy Valladares

Outdoor Shower

on Water, Intimacy, & Digitality

Outdoor Shower


John Culkin prophesied that “we shape our tools, and afterwards, our tools shape us” (1967). Delineating the shape and form of such manifestation, Wendy Hui Kyong Chun in her discussion of habitual new media writes provocatively of our own domestication: “Through habits, users become their machines.”(2016). In the tone they set for us, I offer to over-think about showers and interrogate their role in shaping us into who we are today: How does a wet object become the foundation for the infrastructure of dryness implemented widely today that inadvertently leads to the control and compartmentalization of our ways of thinking and doing? In other words, showers create the illusion of individual sterility, and “much of the project is about unearthing the infrastructure of that illusion” (quote from Prof. Rae Hsu).

An Installation

“Outdoor Shower” is an installation that repurposes liquid CPU cooling systems as guerrilla shower devices. At room temperature, condensation drips down from CPU cooling blocks onto whoever stands beneath it, thus creating a shower made out of each other’s breaths. The assemblage of low-tech gadgets intends to muddy the boundary between private and public, wet and dry, you and me through the idea of leakiness. Just as oceanic eddies link distant lands, showers provide a glimpse into the inevitable merging, melting, and mingling of bodies and streams.

Full frontal view of installation
Frontal view
Back View | Dimensions: 220 x 180 x 60 cm | Medium: Peltier thermoelectric module, wood, pump, CPU cooling block, brass, vinyl tubing

A Performance

Autumn 2023, I began a daily documentation of my shower routines. Eventually, my shower choreographed an 8-minute performance where I silently reenact my shower routines. In my slightly far-fetched musings about the abstraction of movements, showers as abstract techno-social assemblage (somewhat) embody the formlessness and placelessness of contemporary existence.

Screenshots of my shower dance performance.
Screenshots of my “dance” performance, 2023.

A Sound Archive

“Shower Hotline” is a mini sound archive that distributes and collects recordings of shower sounds. It is a toll-free number that anyone can call to listen to an anonymous recording of someone else’s shower. The hotline tries to tap into the overlap between “the extremely private and the extraordinarily public” (Bookchin, 2009) in order to generate “a hopeful revelation of an unconscious community which we can trace through the mass archive” (Chun, 2016). 

Two posters I made to publicize Shower Hotline
Two posters I made to publicize Shower Hotline, 2023.

A Pocket Book

Read more about this project in relation to post-digital aesthetics, queer phenomenology, science and technology studies, and more here.