This artificial agent has been crafted from a potent mix of technical and social skills. In an era where high-end assistive technology systems are being developed to address the rapidly ageing populations of wealthier nations, the planet’s technology and economic divide is becoming ever more flagrant. Meanwhile, activities like begging are increasingly repressed in societies unwilling to recognise this grim reality. The Beggar Robot encapsulates and polarises these issues with its “friendly strategy of resistance” (Sedlacek). The machine stands as an unintimidating, gently pained presence close to the distributor machines and services of generic urban shopping centres. Built from entirely recycled parts, using a Linux operating system and licensed under Creative Commons, the robot was designed to be duplicated and upgraded by those who see its social utility. There is something oddly beguiling in its naïve request for money to distribute to the poor, as it extends small “hands” controlled by an open-close disc driver mechanism. Similarly, its discreet thank you and overall attitude of deference disarm people in the streets, who tend to stop and give openly in response to solicitation that is refreshingly free of the distressing presence of a human beggar. Beggar Robot is a truly international agent, its 1.01 version technical specifications allow compatibility with power and TV supply standards worldwide. Sedlacek’s plan to mass produce Beggar Robots in the largest recycling dumps of the Third World confirms his vision of quietly yet radically effective socio-technological activism.
About the author
Born 1974 in Slovenia. Lives and works in Ljubljana, Slovenia. There are always niches in city space, in services, laws or even the outer space that people have forgotten or never have thought about. These niches are exactly what Sašo Sedlacek has been looking for. His primary interest seems to be things that people overlook and the ways they can be made useful once again. One might say that Sedlacek’s works result from a subversive re-cycling of scientific, legal or technological facts, employing DIY (do-it-yourself) and collaborative methods.
His work is in general defined with theories of disposal, with use and reuse of cheap technologies, waste materials and its recycling. His strategies and prototypes are usually interventions into public space, a sort of friendly strategy of resistance; instead of using typical political or ideological means for intervention he rather uses friendly strategies of convincing and reminding us that we live in a over commercialized world where do it yourself strategies, open source, common goods can be an alternative for a growing number of those who feel excluded, disposed or just unsatisfied with the mainstream.
His work doesn’t aim for big pompous solutions but rather makes small but concrete change in the society. It shows us that individuals and groups have the potential to make small scale changes that can define their environment and influence other’s.
Among some of his most remarkable exhibitions are “Ö-U Immobilien”, Seccesion, Vienna, Austria (2008) / “Lost Territories”, Mala Gallery, Museum of Modern Art, Ljubljana, Slovenia (2008) / “Recycling strategies”, lju cosinus brx gallery, Brussels, Belgium (2007)