A very religious robot

Three German artists have reprogrammed an industrial robot to copy the complete Bible as translated by Martin Luther. The robotic scribe has worked day and night during 7 months in a Karlsruhe museum to write the 66 volumes and the 3.5 million letters of the full German version of the Bible. The robot, named 'bios [Bible]' has used a 900-meter-long roll of paper and a calligraphic style picked from a 15th century German font called 'Schwabacher.' The end result will be cut into pages displayed inside the museum. But read more...

Three German artists have reprogrammed an industrial robot to copy the complete Bible as translated by Martin Luther. The robotic scribe has worked day and night during 7 months in a Karlsruhe museum to write the 66 volumes and the 3.5 million letters of the full German version of the Bible. The robot, named 'bios [Bible]' has used a 900-meter-long roll of paper and a calligraphic style picked from a 15th century German font called 'Schwabacher.' The end result will be cut into pages displayed inside the museum. But read more...

A robot copying the Bible

You can see on the left three pictures. The top and bottom images show the robotic scribe in action while the middle one shows the font used by the robot. (Credit: RobotLab, a set of photos on Flickr assembled by Marc Wathieu)

This reprogrammation of an industrial robot built by KUKA has been done by Martina Haitz, Matthias Gommel and Jan Zappe, who started RobotLab in 2000 to use robots for arts. Why did they use robots? "'More than a million robots are working in the factories of the world. We want to explore their artistic potential,' said Zappe." Regarding the choice of the Bible for this project, Zappe added this was "because it is one of the most significant books of the age and contains a huge amount of data."

The robot was shown as a piece of performance art at the Center for Art and Media (ZKM) in Karlsruhe. Unfortunately, the exhibit, called 'The Algorithmic Revolution,' ended yesterday on January 27, 2008. You can see other pictures of 'bios [Bible]' by visiting this gallery.

Here are additional details about this project coming from RobotLab in this page about "The Bible Scribe." "The installation 'bios [bible]' consists of an industrial robot, which writes down the bible on rolls of paper. The machine draws the calligraphic lines with high precision. Like a monk in the scriptorium it creates step by step the text."

You'll find also more explanations about the choice of the Bible for this exhibit. "'bios [bible]' is focussing on the questions of faith and technical progress. The installation correlates two cultural systems which are fundamental for societies today – religion and scientific rationalism. In this contexts scripture has all times an elementary function, as holy scripture or as formal writing of knowledge. In computer technology 'basic input output system' (bios) designates the module which basically coordinates the interchange between hard- and software. Therefore it contains the indispensable code, the essential program writing, on which every further program can be established."

Sources: DPA, Germany news agency, January 28, 2008; and various websites

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