Malaysian filmmaker Tan Chui Mui debuts art installation 'Emotional Machine' in three cities

A receipt printer is reprogrammed to endlessly print love haikus, matching the mannerisms of a lovestruck human

Tan’s second art exhibition You Don’t Know What Love Is (All photos: Tan Chui Mui)

One of the many ways to express love is through words. Ballads play on radios daily and romance novels fly off shelves into the hands of many. In this way, people are served doses of this intoxicating emotion. But do they truly understand its complexities? Kuantan-born filmmaker Tan Chui Mui challenges the madness of love and presents it in programmed poetry. It is on show in Kuala Lumpur, Paris and Xiamen simultaneously, starting on various days this week.

You Don’t Know What Love Is, Tan’s second art exhibition, features the debut of Emotional Machine, a receipt printer named K after an old associate. Reminiscing a past mentorship alongside K in a film-poetry workshop, she brings up his old university teacher and the latter’s advice to students: “Poetry has to get out of your system, and it will find a way to get out.” The contraption is programmed to spew out haiku after haiku, mimicking the uncontrollable rush of feelings one gets when he falls in love – be it pure or obsessive. 


Kuantan-born filmmaker Tan Chui Mui

By combining overflowing emotion with the unstoppable nature of poetry, Emotional Machine is born, steadily producing words like a man inspired by the rage and despair that consumes him, all the while suffering from the disease of love. 

Curator Lang Ji notes this impersonation, adding that the showcase’s title may ring true. However, in a moment of passion, emotions arise, prompting us to introspect and be inspired. As audiences engage with and observe this installation, reading the haikus or just watching the printer push out verses, they may experience the fluidity of love. 

The showcase presents Chui Mui’s personal reflections on emotions, departing from her usual medium of film into something tangible. Those in Malaysia can drop by the CIMB Hotel Art Fair where Cult Gallery will be hosting her work in Room 2415, Level 24 at Four Points by Sheraton Kuala Lumpur from June 29 to 30. The exhibition opens on June 26 at the Tree Art Gallery in Paris, and June 28 at the Champochic Gallery in Xiamen. 


Follow us on Instagram