Self Bot System

After encountering works by artist as Ken Rinaldo and Theo Jansen I discovered the option in using robotechnology as a tool for artistic research, especially relating to reactions and interactions in combination with a computerprogram. I choose to test these possibilities through a robotconstruction that is trying to create a dynamic definition of the Self. From 2007.

In "Self Bot System" I used the positivistic definition within immunology of the Self, but also the relativistic definition within Buddhism of the same concept.

The definitions I used are presented below:

”In Buddhism Anatta means non-self or non-soul. The Buddha repeatedly indicates that the five impermanent constituents of the living beings are ”not-self”: they are constantly interacting with one another and, therefore constantly changing one another. These five aggregates also interact with the universe around them, so, constantly change the universe as well. How then, can there be one permanent ontological and subjective self within us when the entire universe is impermanent?”

”Immunology is devoted to the problems of defining the characteristics of identity that distinguish individual organisms from those of similar kind, and describing the mechanisms that defend organisms from their predators. ”The Self” provides a ready and convenient metaphor for deciphering immune reactivity. In ”the Self”, host constituents are ignored by the immune system while ”the Other” - pathogens, foreign substances, altered host elements - are processed and destroyed. But this dominant model has recently been challenged, for the self is polymorphous and ill-defined.

I divided the definitions into phrases that I feed into the program without any indications of which definition they belonged to. The programs purpose is then to reproduce the phrases, which are combined freely but according to english grammatical rules.

"Self Bot System" contains of two parts, the robotconstruction (Basic Stamp Technology) and a text containing the two definitions. The robotconstructionen is also provided with an ultrasonic sensor that constantly searches its surroundings within a radius of 1 meter.

If a person stand inside this area the construction starts combining phrases until the person leaves.

Examples on phrases and reproduction:
The first line in the first definition, ”In Buddhism Anatta means non-self or non-soul.”, can be separated into the phrases:

”In Buddhism”, ”Anatta means” and ”non-self or non-soul”. Likewise can for example the second line in the second definitions, ”The Self provides a ready and convenient metaphor for deciphering immune reactivity.”, be separated into the phrases:

”The Self provides”, ”a ready and convenient metaphor” and ”for deciphering immune reactivity”.

A combination of all the phrases can for example start like this:

”Anatta means a ready and convienient metaphor that defend organisms from their predators. In Buddhism the characteristics of identity are ignored by the immune system therefore constantly changing one another:”...

My purpose with this work was to receive a durable definition of the Self that I on one hand personally can relate to and on the other hand use as a reference in future works when I was researching the same concept. A defined Self is a necessary starting point for a functioning ethical behavior.

But a definition of a Self can also be a Non-Self and for relating to buddhistic thinking I choose not to document the definition but letting it be ever changing. This for remind myself on the difficulty in defining something so fleeting as the concept of the Self. "Self Bot System" is nevertheless limited by a scientific probability based on the size of the texts and the phrases ability to combine.


”Self Bot System”, 27x17x10 cm, the paper is size A4, electronics, speaker, aluminium.