Here’s a conversational performance ‘bot’ I knocked together over a couple of days. It was made to ‘perform’ at Isolated Mass #2 2020 (where it largely failed) but continues to live on, ideal for one-on-one interaction.

If you want to have a play you can visit (you’ll need Telegram installed on one of your devices).

Interface of @jehovasfitness_bot
@jehovasfitness_bot Interface

As a response to Covid-19 and the numerous event cancellations, there’s a whole range of online streaming and other publishing endeavours going on. Taking part in ‘Isolated Mass #2 2020’, I saw it as an opportunity to explore the format.

In the summer of 2018, I was living in Berlin and hooked up with old friend Mathew Johnson for a ‘mouth and guitar’ project we called Jehova’s Fitness. We naturally fell into a particularly spontaneous and ramshackle evolution: one rehearsal, one recording session, one gig, and one tour. The next stage in that journey is the… Jehova’s Fitness Telegram Bot.

I used Manybot for simple, codeless bot creation and found it pretty easy to follow and get up and running. I settled on a handful of themes from our tour such as reading reviews of fish and chip shops, the holiday town of Hunstanton, mucking around with objects, and tropical marine fish. I made a bunch of video and audio segments. I also got Mathew to contribute, and we added two further options that asked the user to submit content of their own. The menu was intentionally oblique, so users didn’t feel especially grounded in their interactions — we wanted it to be a little confusing.

I might explore some of the thoughts and issues raised by its ‘performance’ at IM#2 at a later date. In the meantime, I think it’s a fun experiment in building a bot, even if not the most advanced example of the technology. I’d recommend trying to create something yourself, especially as the barrier to entry is low.