Rikas Xiaoyan Shen | Recent Projects

Rikas Xiaoyan Shen, Project Invisible. Ongoing.

Second year ACT student Rikas Xiaoyan Shen is an artist, researcher, creative technologist, and interaction designer whose work crosses a number of disciplines.

Hers is an interdisciplinary practice which builds the bridge between art, science, culture, and technology. She is also especially interested in the life sciences and neuroscience. In order to pursue these interests in addition to her creative and artistic paths, Rikas did an internship at the Institution of Neuroscience, Chinese Academy of Sciences, as well as a one year research experience on mental health recovery, between her first and second year at ACT.

One of her main focuses is on creating interactive installations, interfaces, and wearables to explore new possibilities for human interaction.

Currently, Rikas is working on Project Invisible, which she describes in her own words:

Project Invisible (ongoing)

Refractive index (RI) is a fundamental optical property of materials. It is a dimensionless number that describes how fast light propagates through the material compared to the speed of light in vacuum. The light will be bent if it runs into a material with a different RI, and the degree of the angle of incidence is determined by the RI of the materials. If the light enters a material with the same RI, the light does not bend, and no edge is detected. In other words, the material becomes invisible.

Many index-matching experiments glass (n~1.474) is always used since its RI is close to the RI of Glycerin (n~1.473). However, glass is not an ideal material for prototyping customized installation structures, thus I wonder if it is possible to create a mixture of solution which can match the refractive index of Acrylic (n~1.490 – 1.492). At the beginning I thought it could be a very interesting and powerful tool for many different applications.

After some research and experiments, the special chemical mixture of methyl salicylate (n~1.538) and isopropyl alcohol (n~1.478) is created. Although the solution is able to match the RI of clear acrylic. This chemical is a strong solvent for PMMA so the mixture keeps dissolving the solid acrylic and it can destroy a structure in 1 – 10 hours based on the structure of acrylic. This characteristic makes the project an attribute of transiency. The intensive dynamic reaction is happening all the time while nothing is sensed by our photoreceptors. It is there, it is collapsing, it is dissolved—— it exists, but it can never be sensed.

So currently I am further experimenting on other plastics such as polypropylene, which can be decomposed visibly. It is still an ongoing artistic experiment on shapes, materials and dynamics.

Other Projects

Resonance Ver.M

Resonance Ver.M is an interactive video projection installation that allows the audience to have a peep into the artist’s inside world. The project is the combination of a series of experimental executions including self-training, performance, EEG recording, interpretation of the bio-signal, subjective dream log, exhibition and interaction. The artwork shows an approach to the investigation of the dreams and a new form of “Human-Human interaction” through electrophysiological signals. It also introduces an innovative form of interaction between the reality and dream world, the conscious mind and the unconscious brain.

Shen, X. , “Resonance Ver.M: An Interactive Installation to Peep into One’s Dreams”, ACM TEI’2019 (2019.3).

ACM TEI 2019 Arts Track


Invisible, Ubiquitous

Rikas Shen, Sam Liao, and Sauman Tse

Twenty water samples were collected from the seas around Antarctica, Argentina and Hong Kong, recording the exact time and GPS location of each sample as well as environmental parameters like water temperature, salinity and turbidity. Through an optical microscope, photos and videos of diverse phytoplankton and protozoa were documented and then analyzed through their DNA sequences.The artwork uses a 5-meter dome as an immersive environment. The images of the microscopic organisms are re-animated to reconstruct the tiniest group in the massive ecosystem. The organisms’ DNA sequences of varying nucleotides are also transformed into musical notes and chords. The animation and music combine in a melody of micro-organisms.

Freeze Frame, Extreme Environments: Antactica Exhibition, School of Creative Media, City University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong.



SCALE++ is a load sensitive surface which provides exact contact position in 3D and a force vector of user’s touch from low cost load sensors without any prior knowledge about shape of objects. Load based approach is advantageous since they provide a force vector, however, there have been mathematical ambiguity of the touch position along the line of action.To address this problem, we develop algorithm based on pseudoinverse matrix framework, utilizing the notion that user’s hands are always fluctuating slightly and unconsciously during touch interaction. In this paper, we introduce the design space of the surface, outline of the algorithm and highlighted applications. This technique to localize the touch position in physical spaces enables us to design tangible interaction with inert everyday objects and analyze user’s activities happening on the surfaces

Yoshida, T., Shen, X., Achituv, T., & Ishii, H., “3D touch point detection on load sensitive surface based on continuous fluctuation of a user hand.“, In SIGGRAPH Asia 2018 Posters (p. 39). ACM.