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"bios [torah]" Installation

An industrial robot writes a Torah. It does not use digital printing techniques to do this, but adopts the human act of writing. Using pen and ink, it writes at the speed of a human a total of 304,805 Hebrew letters on an 80-meter roll of paper.

An industrial robot writes Hebrew letters with a quill

The robot installation "bios [torah]"
© robotlab

The installation "bios [torah]" by the artist group robotlab refers to the activity of Torah writing performed in the Jewish tradition by a specially trained scribe, the Sofer. While the Sofer guarantees the sanctity of the Scripture, the installation highlights its industrial reproducibility. It simulates a centuries-old cultural technique that has long since been overtaken by media developments.

The Torah written by the industrial robot is not kosher – its origins fulfill neither the material nor the immaterial requirements of Jewish religious law. The robot does not distinguish between parchment and paper. It also has no blessings. It writes what and how it is programmed to do.

The installation title refers to an elementary component of computer technology, the Basic Input Output System (BIOS). BIOS is the system upon which all other computer programs build and is thus as fundamental to the development of the machine as Scriptures are to the cultural history of mankind.

The artist group robotlab examines the relationship between man and machine, using industrial robots time and again in its public installations and performances. robotlab creates experimental designs that allow new perspectives on the body and the mechanical movements of robots. Thus they anticipate a look into a future where robots have become a visible part of daily life in society.


10 July 2014 to 12 April 2015


Libeskind Building, ground floor, Eric F. Ross Gallery


with the museum ticket (8 euros, reduced rate 3 euros)

robotlab / Matthias Gommel, Martina Haitz, Jan Zappe
bios [torah] (2007/14)
Robot Installation

Work on Hebrew calligraphy and typesetting:
Sahar Aharoni, Karlsruhe
With the kind support of:
ZKM Karlsruhe, KUKA Augsburg, LAMY Heidelberg, PAPIER UNION Karlsruhe, CORDIER Papier Bad Durkheim, WINTOPO Biggleswade/UK

Read the interview on the theory and practice of Torah-writing with Torah scribe Rabbi Reuven Yaacobov, who was showing his art in the exhibition "The Creation of the World."

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