In the modern world, power is oftenly associated with democracy and political legitimacy. The idea of empowerment is the measures of the degree of autonomy and self-determination in people. These idea is carried out beyond humanity to artificial beings and robots. However, in the digital driven world, there are primitive cultures and rituals preserved by the same people that use digital devices. These two contradictory paradigms coexist and empower human internally and externally. Therefore, it is unlikely that one embodiment will prevail. One of the most common themes among primitive cultures around the world that vitally influence modern society is the ideology of supernatural manifestation, spirit, and ghost. The reinterpretation of these intangible power from J.J. Cohen’s Monster Culture: monster and supernatural power are born at the metaphoric crossroads, as an embodiment of a certain cultural moment; L. Hearn’s The Value of the Supernatural in Fiction: supernatural manifestations inspired human to dream the impossible dream and pursue his or her passion vigorously; D.G. Bargen’s A Woman’s Weapon Spirit Possession in the Tale of Genji: spirit possession empowers oppressed population to speak up and challenge the status quo; had shed light on this untapped area of study and created new understanding of the relationship between human and power in the primitive societies. Even though, robot and supernatural is a completely different domain, human are commuters who mobilize between these worlds. Therefore, the collision between these two embodiments result in intricate yet fascinating phenomena such as the creation of BINA48, a robot that posess digitalized human spirit, or the emerging norm in Thailand: thais request monk to write “mantra” on the automated machine and automobile. At this point, the modern object is embedded with spirit. Primitive power will endorse the progress of the modern things. In this chapter, the authors are interested in exploring the relationship between supernatural and robot: how do these two distinct powers compromise one another? and how does human justify and perceive this collision between machines and myths. While we, as human, are asking questions about robots that possess spiritual quality. Keep in mind that soon there will be robots that ask us back about human that embody robot.

Mononoke (written 物の怪) carries the meanings of “monster”, “ghost”, or “spirit”, and the literal meaning is “the spirit of a thing” or “strange thing”
About the authors


Bank Ngamarunchot is a lecturer of KMUTT, Thailand. He is an Economist who works in many fields such as Political Economy and Public Policy. His recent works relate to negative consequences of capitalism such as monopoly, externality, labor exploitation, and inequality. He is also an owner of the art gallery (Tentacles) located in his hometown, Bangkok.

Pat Pataranutaporn is a creative biologist, artist, designer, coder and an undergrad student at College of Liberal Arts & Sciences, Arizona State University. His work examines a range from environmental biotechnology to interactive technology at the intersection of biology, media, and computation. Right now he is a research fellow at the Biodesign Institute and School of Art, Media + Engineering at Arizona State University.

4 thoughts on “Machine Mononoke : robot, supernatural, and power

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