Artist Neil Mendoza creates “Spambot” robot writers to create a macabre, porcine Brave New World
23rd September 2023

Artist Neil Mendoza creates “Spambot” robot writers to create a macabre, porcine Brave New World

We’re massive fans of artist Neil Mendoza having worked with him many moons ago to create robot butterflies out of mobile phones that were sent into O2 for recycling.

So it should come as no surprise that we find ourselves celebrating one of his installations which combines Aldous Huxley, a neural network, eight cans of spam and what look like 16 Furby eyes.

This rather unique melange is what makes up Mendoza’s latest art installation entitled “Spambots”.

Each “bot” has at its disposal a four-letter keyboard and, using a neural network trained on the novel Brave New World, they collectively retell the story of each chapter of the author’s Brave New World, replacing all of the nouns and verbs with porcine alternatives.

The book parallels the industrial meat industry, so there is something very macabre about having these empty cans of pork product tell the story of their fate.

As Neil himself puts it:

Spambots explores questions around AI and industrial farming. AI is increasingly used to generate spam content.

Spambots explores what would happen if, instead, machine learning was used to empower a group of robotic Spam cans to tell their tales. Each Spambot has a small keyboard with four letters on it and when they collaborate they are able type the whole alphabet along with some punctuation. The text they are typing is generated by a neural network fine tuned on a version of Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World where occasional words have been swapped out for pig-related ones.

In this novel each character is born into a caste in much the same way industrial farm animals, such as those that end up in Spam, are born into their fate.

It’s one of life’s weird but wonderful things.

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