Leslie Liu is a designer based in St. Louis dedicated to silly and serious things.

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This book you are holding is a junkyard

An adaptation of Jussi Parikka’s essay, “Malware as Operational Art: On the If/Then of Geopolitics and Tricksters,” from Het Nieuwe Instituut’s 2019 exhibition, Malware: Symptoms of Viral Infection. Parikka’s text encourages a reconsideration of glitches and instances of computer failure as the norm.

Open spread of book, typeset in a green font with green images.

The structure of this book references the skeletal syntax of the web and the layered, nested anatomy of HTML. Smaller moves—the unravelling typography and cut paper revealing a computer-generated texture on the inner folds—seek to reinforce this theme of perceived danger, offering an uneasy, anti-reader friendly experience.

3.5 × 6.5" on newsprint, hand sewn. Texture on inner folds from Zalgo “messy text” generator and generative graphics programmed with DrawBot.

↪︎ Full PDF

A book cover against a patch of dead grass. The cover reads, 'This book you are holding is an unkempt garden, a junkyard. Let the weeds overgrow, hack through [the fences].' Its text is green, printed on newsprint. A sliver of the cover is cut out, revealing a green pattern in the interior. Overhead shot of an open book on a concrete ground. The text and images are green and the inner folds are densely textured with an unidentifiable pattern. The inner fold of the front cover, photographed in front of a lawn with fallen leaves: unknown glyphs and diacritics spill out from the gutter in varying shades of green.
Basic Space
poster + microsite

Assets for a speculative festival, Basic Space, that explores the potential of abstracting meme formats. Hover states on the microsite reveal not only the skeleton of the title’s letterforms, but also additional information about the festival.

The background patterns of accompanying posters are generative abstract compositions of four common meme formats, programmed with DrawBot and riso printed.

As a metaphor for the anatomy of memes, mouse interactions reveal the outlines of the festival’s name—the bubbling circle changing color as the visitor hovers over the four quadrants, a reference to the political compass.

↪︎ Microsite

A person scanning a QR code on a poster, whose title text reads 'BASIC SPACE', with their phone. A person on a website with thick black lettering that reads 'BASIC SPACE', their computer stacked on top of posters of the same title. An empty hallway with posters strewn all over: one is draped on the handrail, two others on the ground. The title of the poster reads 'BASIC SPACE,' with supplementary text and a QR code around it, printed on a pink pattern.
Nostalgia Loop

A broadsheet housing two articles about the role of nostalgia in global and American politics. Influenced by the comfort of vintage food graphics, this newspaper considers how complacency can be dangerous.

↪︎ Full PDF

Open spreads of a newspaper: ragged text is interspersed with various images of domestic life and postwar American foods. Several images are fragmented, some areas in black and white, others in red. Titles are set in a bold yellow font with round letterforms.
A newspaper among bushes, its reverse side up. The broadsheet is printed in a vibrant red hue, with strings of yellow text strewn about. A copy of the newspaper draped on a green chair. A poster: from a fragmented, black and white background with areas of red, a question reads, 'How comfortable are we willing to be, steeped in this nostalgia? What will it take for us to snap out of it?'
On Work
coffee sleeves + prototype

A set of four coffee sleeves that wonder about the nature of work. With references to Corporate Memphis, tech/onboarding screen illustrations, and the video game Going Under, these coffee sleeves ponder the reality of the industrialization of time and the way work subsumes one’s identity.

Each sleeve features a question that relates to a quote excerpted from Bob Black’s “The Abolition of Work” and a QR code linking to a low-fidelity prototype of a selfie filter, drawing on workplace coffee culture.

↪︎ Prototype

Assorted cofffee sleeves, each with an illustration and a question in green. Some sleeves read, 'Who owns my time?', 'When am I not working?', 'Am I just a job?' A coffee cup with a coffee sleeve, on which is a quote and the text ‘Discover your #joesona’ in bold. Next to this photo is a screenshot, in iOS view, of someone scanning the QR code, which links to a website. Screenshot of a website running a flashing selfie filter: atop the person's head is overlaid an image of a yellow coffee cup with bloodshot eyes tearfully smiling. On the forehead is the text, 'AM I JUST A JOB?' and surrounding this webcam feed is a black rectangular border, around whose corners are some digital stickers and an image of a hand holding a coffee cup.

Inspired by two artworks on campus, this alphabet is an exercise in modular design/coding and relationships between part and whole.

↪︎ Live site

Several opaque, slanting rectangles warping and shifting color against a black background.
Ouija Board Seance

Promoting a ouija board seance hosted by the St. Louis Paranormal Research Society, this poster plays with the gesture of obscuring and revealing information. Mixing clairvoyance with the occult, the symbols that form the texture of the poster were (pseudo)randomly chosen through a custom DrawBot program. The process through which the poster takes form involves an element of chance: it invites passerby to roll a die to determine which symbols to draw over.

A collaboration with Betsy Ellison.

Three opaque/semi-translucent posters (black ink printed on mylar). Each page is packed with lines of esoteric symbols, some crossed out with black permanent marker. Curves and lines branch out from the left and right, suggesting some kind of hidden, then revealed, information. A composite image of the three posters, side by side: marked symbols reveal the following text: 'OCT 30 SATURDAY 9PM ST LOUIS PARANORMAL RESEARCH SOCIETY LEMP BREWERY OFFICE OUIJA BOARD SEANCE'.
Computer Grass is Natural Grass
poster + microsite

A poster about the materiality of interfaces and the metaphors that shape them. One side references interface elements characteristic of macOS and neumorphism, whereas the other is heavily influenced by the Talmud and other scholarly texts that use a bracketed composition for discussion.

The adapted website builds on my interest in digital design.

↪︎ Full PDF

A poster: the title, in green, reads, 'computer grass is natural grass'. Paragraphs of information are laid out across three overlapping tabs/planes. Dotted lines connect various images.
memory garden

A digital zen garden: collecting worldwide memories submitted anonymously on the little memory app, this prototype explores ASCII art and the metaphor of memories as blossoming flowers.

↪︎ Prototype

ASCII art: against a background of slashes (grass), a trail of asterisks (flowers) have been planted. They flicker, blinking between asterisks and uppercase letters. A black box with some white text in the center reveals a memory accessed.

I am interested in design defaults and mass/pop aesthetics, particularly as they intersect with questions of taste. Currently looking for internship opportunities. Always down for collaborations.

Online elsewhere: Email, Are.na, Instagram

This website thanks Low-tech Magazine and HTML Energy for their influence. The images on this site have been dithered in an effort to keep things light.