a god forsaken

Interaction Design / Experimental Design / Speculative Design
Cranbrook Academy of Art


This project is the result of inquiry into the relationship between robots, gods and devotion. Religions and their  missionaries travel to "the far east" and "the orient" with promises of a bright future, and using the spread of belief systems as a way to colonize. In a similar way, we are encouraged to place faith in the black box of artificial intelligence and technology for safety, security and efficiency.

The work takes the form of a “divine” altar. A custom built CNC plotter machine has the ability to write or draw any file sent to it.

The altar is placed in a room, severely lit, and surrounded by 6 custom LED light generators that bounce light off the walls and floors when the altar “speaks”.

The plotter receives text through the application of a custom GPT-2 based neural network, that reappropriates work into stories that resemble prophecy.

The scroll gradually grows and fills the room as the machine writes, taking and commanding space.

Heard in the background is the drone of a "tanpura" - a classical Indian instrument, with a scale, pitch and tempo designed to complement the whirring of the motors and the belts in the room. 

Installation wide shot

The piece viewed head on

The slow, robotic movement of the plotter on the paper scroll surface.

Close Up
A close up view of the plotter gondola against the paper scroll.

The slow, robotic movement of the plotter on the paper scroll surface.

As the scroll unfurls, it folds and falls over itself, taking space in the room.

Scroll close up
The scroll as it falls off the plotter surface, to become entrenched in the room.