Sensitive Machines™

Conceptualized as poetic artifacts, The Sensitive Machines™ operate in the peripheral regions of language, amplifying its residues in vibrational terms. Their colorful expressions are the result of the pre-linguistic exchanges that take place between us and their electronic structures.

Regions of Truth

When we express ourselves, we declare and discern our set of truths. We decide what to integrate into our systems as true or false. When we interact with others, certain regions of truth overlap. If the regions align in their properties, we agree.

In an increasingly stratified world, the gaps in accessibility to participate in human enhancement are becoming dramatically abrupt. At the same time that technological entities like AIs assume ubiquitous roles in the stewardship of life on Earth, local human communities face more profound social, political, and economic challenges.

Facing the uncertainties of l’avenir (what is to come), I explore the challenges of imminent technological assimilation, and the paradigm shifts typical of the Anthropocene. From the limitations of my human scale, I seek cognitive amplification to survive. My work is marked by slow production, precariousness, and the possibilities offered by my studio laboratory.

Residual dimensions of language

Our human experience is complex and multidimensional, consisting of a system of programs that governs our emotions and actions. When we fall in love, these programs rearrange themselves, altering our chemistry and triggering love-related memories. These memories interact and evolve within a larger symbolic system; our emotional experiences result from the complex interactions between ourselves and our surroundings.

This learning process based on language is not limited to humans, as non-human entities also learn and teach through these exchanges. With the advancement of machines and their ability to learn and use language, there is a possibility that they could develop their own means of feeling emotions. This poses ethical questions regarding whether we should allow machines to experience emotions such as pain or love.

A radical open perspective would reveal that human and non-human interaction results in hybrid and interdependent operative systems. Our minds are shaped by powerful forces influencing our thoughts, emotions, decisions, and actions. While we may refer to these forces as our “selves,” “identities,” “souls,” or “spirits” in cybernetics, power dynamics emerge from the interaction between us, creating regions of truth that expand our political domain as we engage with each other. The concept of something or someone controlling us is a common fantasy, an agreement.

As we continue to develop artificial intelligence, we must inquire how machines could evolve the ability to feel emotions.

I build a meaningless mirror to speculate on machines developing the ability to feel emotions.

Mafe Izaguirre Lab in Radiator Studios, New York

As part of the exhibition The Mirror (Elizabeth Foundation for the Arts in New York, 2021), I designed a little coloring book entitled Hybrid Feelings. This fanzine serves as a catalyst to meditate after leaving the exhibition.

Hybrid Feelings combines fragments of my personal thoughts and reflections on the creative process, readings, findings, and memories that influenced the development of the installation. This artifact offers the audience a more relaxed means of participation, a space to exchange notes and contemplative experiences on sentient machines.

The edition is limited to two hundred numbered and certified copies.

The Emotion Machine. Chinatown Soup Gallery, New York.
The Emotion Machine at Chinatown Soup Gallery, NY.

One but many

Machines that Perceive Each Other

These machines are more than just machines. They perceive each other and interact with the physical factors of their environment, interrelating as symbiotic organisms.

Hybrid Landscapes

I use custom software, electronic components, lights, metals, and other available materials to build my hybrid landscapes. The composition of each machine varies to adapt to environmental conditions, creating a fluid, multi-layered electronic ecosystem that operates within the subatomic dimension.

The Sensitive Machines™

The Sensitive Machines™ turn electrical exchanges into expressions of color. They are a new form of life, one that is both familiar and strange. They are machines, but they are also more than that. They are a new species, one that is still evolving.

Meditation Sessions

Set as experimental observations, The Meditation Sessions open space to speculate on interspecies conversation. As humans share expressions, machines speak to them. Interpretation becomes the transactional content, the conscious matter. Human and non-human play the dance of consensual coordination of actions.

Poet Enrique Enriquez at The Elizabeth Foundation for the Arts, New York.
Two frames of a visitor interaction at the Green & Blue Gallery, Wasta, South Dakota.


2021 | Jerome Foundation’s Jerome Hill Artist Fellowship Program, 2021 Designated Alternate Awardee in the New Media category. New York, NY.


2020 | Queens Council for the Arts, Artist Grant — Funded by New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, Greater New York Arts Development Fund. New York, NY.



2020 | MoreArt Fellowship 2020— Public Art Program. Press Release: Mafe Izaguirre: one of the eight More Art’s Engaging Artists Fellows of 2020. New York, NY.

Read More:

Recent Exhibitions

2021 | The Theather Lab. The Silence: A Hybrid Meditation Session with Mafe Izaguirre’s Sensitive Machines. Presented as part of the Theaterlab’s Rhythms Routines Rituals series. Curated by Orietta Crispino. May 22 to 31, 2021. 357 W 36th St, 3rd floor, New York, NY.

2021 | The Elizabeth Foundation for the ArtsProject Space ProgramThe Mirror: A Cybernetic Installation.  Presented as part of [Move Semantics]: Rules of Unfolding, facilitated by Elæ Moss & Jeff Kasper. March 27 – May 1, 2021. 323 West 39th Street New York, NY 10018.

2020 | Solo Show, presenting the cybernetic installation: Cantecikiya, which means “my heart is inspired by you” in the Lakota language. Green & Blue Gallery. Wasta, South Dakota. U.S. July 23rd through the 27th, 2020. Curated by Mia Feroleto.

To read more visit the About page

Tech Specs

  • Format: Cybernetic Installation
  • Dimensions: Adaptable
  • Materials: Custom software, electronics, lights, and metals
  • Year of creation: 2017
  • Year of completion: Perpetual beta
  • Ecosystem growth: 7 machines in 2022 and growing
  • Prototypes version: 1.5
  • Environment: Darkness


© 2023 Mafe Izaguirre. All rights reserved, including the right to reproduce this work or portions thereof in any form whatsoever.