Artists and Hackers: Ep. 17 – Erotic Ecologies and the Fluid Relationships Between Humans and A.I.

Speculative Design is an area of artistic and creative exploration and future-casting. Practitioners dream future possibilities to address societal challenges through design and create experimental projects in new territories. New media artist Sue Huang creates artworks addressing collective experience. Her projects probe ecological intimacies and explore the fluid borders between humans and A.I.


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This season we’ve partnered with the New Media Caucus, an international non-profit formed to promote the development and understanding of new media art. We’re interviewing five new media artists working today, both individually and at a live in-person event we held in February. This season of the podcast is supported by the National Endowment for the Arts grants for arts projects.

As an artist engaged in speculative design and imagining alternative futures, we might have an image of a kind of artist creating dystopic visions, or on the other hand drafting utopian solutions to widespread societal problems. But Sue’s work in speculative design takes on both more nuanced and playful approaches.

She describes speculative design as a space to addressing climate through envisioning possible scenarios or different possible outcomes.

Her work In the Time of Clouds takes as its premise a future of advanced climate change where clouds no longer form above Earth. She considered the human relationships to clouds, the sensorial, physical and psychological. From this starting point she worked with data collected via scraping and analyzing social media to develop ice cream flavors and hand built terra cotta dessert wares based on unique clouds from a constructed archive of cloud videos created through custom cloud-recording software.

{The} terracotta wares are utilized in the exhibition as objects for consuming sweets (ice cream). However, they also serve as cautionary objects, attempting to document the clouds using earthenware—connecting an artistic medium from prehistoric times to a speculative future. The wares are intended to be eventually buried in the ground, becoming archaeological artifacts for future civilizations—human or alien—once our time on this earth has passed. –Sue Huang, In the Time of Clouds

Sue’s project Erotic Ecologies is a work about damaged ecology presented “through the lens of the erotic.”

In this work, the erotic acts as a reanimating force, an antidote to oblivion that breathes life into a dying landscape. This force is, as Audre Lorde writes, “a source of power” that “give[s] us the energy to pursue genuine change within our world.” Countering a dominant cultural narrative of anthropocentrism, the work centers ecological intimacy as a means of exploring the ways that all entities—human and nonhuman, living and nonliving—are messily enmeshed –Sue Huang, Erotic Ecologies

Using A.I. Sue trained a model on hundreds of books from the Smithsonian Institution Archives and collected internet erotica to generate synthesized erotic/ecological hybrid forms. She also created videos utilizing “deepfake” techniques to animate them with the “uncannily familiar visual grammar of the erotic.”

It’s certainly notable that Sue says she is more interested in the fluid relationship between AI and humans, not so much on the current popular fear of a technology takeover that’s reached to the front pages of our newspaper. She’s more interested in the creative possibilities for AI as a tool. Rather than focusing on the technology itself, Sue uses A.I. as one tool among many that we can use for humans to reveal our own human consciousness along with revealing perhaps our own unconscious minds as well.

image description: Sue looking into the camera, wearing an apron. She is standing in the street in front of a brick wall and construction.


Sue Huang is a new media and installation artist whose work addresses collective experience. Her current projects explore ecological intimacies, human and nonhuman relations, and speculative futures. She has exhibited nationally and internationally including at the Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA), Los Angeles; the Contemporary Arts Center (CAC) in Cincinnati; Rhizome; ISEA; Ars Electronica; and the Beall Center for Art + Technology. She’s been artist in residence at Lower Manhattan Cultural Council (LMCC), the Studios at MASS MoCA , and at Cherry Street Pier.


This season of the podcast is produced with the New Media Caucus for New Rules: Conversations with New Media Artists. You can find out more by visiting This project is supported in part by the National Endowment for the Arts. To find out more about how National Endowment for the Arts grants impact individuals and communities, visit

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