BIOBOT: LAB SITUATION26. MFRU, International Festival of Computer Arts23. October – 02. December 2020, Maribor, Slovenia

The aim of this project is to create a robot that is controlled by neuron cell culture and powered by biological muscle. In order to survive, Biobot requires a laboratory setting due to its design using soft tissue engineering. The construction of Biobot’s body is based on mechanical leverage calculations, which can be manipulated with minimal force to produce significant movement. By utilizing live materials to create new forms, this innovative approach raises questions about the ethical and ontological implications of these creatures, as well as the protocols for handling them and our attitudes towards them.

In the lab, we are cultivating live neurons on a plate with electrodes that conduct electrical signals, which are then converted from analog to digital, amplified, and used to control the movement of the Biobot’s body. We have designed the mechanical shell for Biobot 1.1 & 1.2 in various shapes, with an information loop from the movement of the bot’s body, which can be used as input for the neurons. This information can be retrieved, modified by the neurons, and sent back to the technological body. In the next phase, we plan to integrate the technological and biological components, eliminating the separation between the “artificial” moving mechanism and the “natural” tissue.

Biobot represents a novel approach to artistic practice that incorporates both new materials and processes, giving rise to a new artistic language. It employs scientific and technological advancements in a non-scientific manner to create a composite body that is both biological and technological. Biobot is a small-scale living entity with its own intelligence and right to exist as a life form.

Artistic concept and development: Zoran Srdić Janežič
Programming: Matic Potočnik
Biosensing electronics: Erik Krkač
Electronics, PCB design: Gregor Krpič
3D design: Cveto Kuneševič
Neural engineering: BioTehna Lab – Kristijan Tkalec, Tjaša Lepko
Muscle engineering: Educell Lab – Ariana Barlič
Production: Kersnikova Institute, BioTehna Lab
Partners: Kambič Laboratory Equipment, d.o.o., Educell company for cellular biology, d.o.o.

The artwork was created as part of the project konS – Platform for Contemporary Investigative Art.