Tech by VICE

This Man Is Controlling a Robot With His Butthole

Dani Ploeger's "B-hind" performance art installment uses a hacked anal probe to drive a little bot around with his sphincter.

by Samantha Cole
Mar 2 2020, 1:00pm

Screenshot via VImeo

An artist in the Netherlands claims he can drive a robot around with the power of his sphincter.

"B-hind offers a unique Internet of Things (IoT) solution to fully integrate your sphincter muscle in everyday living," according to a description for the opening event and champagne reception held on February 7 in Rotterdam. "The revolutionary anal electrode-powered interface system replaces conventional hand and voice-based device interaction and enables advanced digital control rooted in the interiors of your body." Alright!

As part of a challenge set by art organizations V2_, the Lab for the Unstable Media in Rotterdam, and In4Art, artists had to recreate a previous V2_-hosted work with their own twist.

As the first (and so far, only) in that series, artist Dani Ploeger's B-hind is inspired by a bizarre piece of 1994 performance art by Stelarc, an artist whose work typically centered on the idea that human bodies are obsolete.

In "Amplified Body," Stelarc hooked himself up to industrial medical robots and other hardware that was controlled by electrical impulses from his muscles. Please note: there's nothing up his ass.

For B-hind, according to a project page on Ploeger's site, he hacked a commercially-available anal electrode probe device called Anuform (that's typically used to "stimulate your anal sphincter muscles and pelvic floor muscles, making them stronger," according to the device's website) to follow the contractions of his sphincter muscles and translate them to commands for a small cute, consumer robot, the Keecker. It looks like a bulbous Roomba.

Here's a video from the opening night of B-hind, where Ploeger describes how it works, projects a video of his anal canal onto the gallery walls, and demonstrates the device on a shit-streaked robot:

Another one of Ploeger's performance art pieces, called Electrode, from 2011, uses the same type of anal electrode to play music:

Like that previous project, according to the B-hind project page, the sounds in the room during the installment also came from his connected butthole: "The re-enactment will mainly draw from samples of direct recordings of bodily processes (e.g. heartbeat, blood flow, muscle contractions)," he wrote. "Thus, the sound of the work will focus more on the wetness and fleshy-ness of human bodies in their interaction with technological devices."

At this champagne-fueled butthole show, Ploeger told me that the audience's responses were "diverse."

"There was some unclarity and confusion," he said. "Some asked whether the product had left the prototyping phase yet, or how many had been sold already. An art collector bought one of the vacuum sealed electrodes with feces on it... A few people left cos they found it disgusting... Two people wanted to try it themselves after they saw the pitch."

Where your own response to seeing B-hind falls on this spectrum of intrigue and revulsion probably says more about you than it does what Ploeger puts up his ass.

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