A robot to defend cultural diversity

Photographic artist Jimmy Nelson unleashes The Preservation Robot at SXSW

An autonomous technology to reverse homogenization by distributing the richness of indigenous culture to the world

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Austin, TX, March 12 2019 The Preservation Robot was unveiled last Saturday evening at the House of Scandinavia at SXSW by photographic artist Jimmy Nelson . The Preservation Robot is the first autonomous technology ever created to address the homogenization of human culture, due to the ever-increasing spread of Western culture on the internet. The robot, which was activated live on stage at SXSW, continuously places a myriad of images of indigenous culture into the open spaces on the internet, to help make it more culturally diverse. The Preservation Robot uses technology – one of the very things that threatens cultural diversity – against itself to shine a light on indigenous culture. This is photographic artist Jimmy Nelson’s answer to homogenization.

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Technology – and specifically the internet – is allowing Western culture to saturate the world. This is threatening our global cultural diversity.

Photographic artist Jimmy Nelson has spent the last 30 years traveling to the farthest corners of the world to visit and photograph some of the last indigenous cultures still alive. His work has subsequently been used to garner support and help restore a sense of pride around indigenous ways of life. Nelson believes that exposing the world to the richness and range of indigenous peoples is the way to safeguard not only their traditions and ways of life, but also to bolster one of humanity’s greatest values: cultural diversity.

Nelson has witnessed the sharp decline in cultural diversity in the last decades, and realized that he needed a far-reaching approach to tell people about this global issue. The Preservation Robot is his effort to reverse this decline.

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“The decline of cultural diversity would perhaps seem a less urgent problem than some of our other global issues. However, the erosion of cultural identity throughout the planet and the loss of traditions and customs has far-reaching and profound effects on all of us. Indigenous culture is visually underrepresented – and often misrepresented. I’m taking a stand by launching The Preservation Robot. Using technology to invert homogenization.”

Jimmy Nelson, Photographic Artist

A team of creatives and technologists, including J. Walter Thompson Amsterdam’s Bas Korsten, the creative lead behind The Next Rembrandt, joined forces to come up with a technological solution to address the problem of homogenization, and to start a dialogue on cultural diversity. Bas Korsten joined Jimmy Nelson on stage at SXSW to present the robot to the audience and take questions.

“It's probably fair to state that Western culture has a stranglehold on the world. We, the people working in tech and advertising, are propagating that same culture. If not as the agents – then certainly as the enablers. This is why the idea of using technology – the very thing that threatens cultural diversity – against itself to promote cultural diversity is so compelling. This is the aim of The Preservation Robot. A robot to help humans preserve their cultural identity.”  

Bas Korsten, Creative Partner, J. Walter Thompson Amsterdam

The images that The Preservation Robot is distributing throughout the web are photos of some of the most glorious, yet threatened indigenous cultures across the world. For now this is Jimmy Nelson’s own work, but in the near future these will also be images made by other photographers, via the Jimmy Nelson Foundation, a group which finds, supports and enables new talent to photograph and document indigenous cultures from their own perspective.

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To find out how The Preservation Robot works, watch this video:

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More information on how The Preservation Robot works:

The Preservation Robot is an autonomous technology that continuously increases cultural diversity online in a bid to combat homogenization.

            •           Finding open spaces

The Preservation Robot autonomously creates free open spaces to upload pictures of indigenous culture. Open spaces on social networks like Reddit and Twitter. And free cloud platforms like IMGUR and TinyIMG.

            •           Creating accounts

The robot uses these accounts to upload images of indigenous cultures in all their glory.

            •           SEO (Search Engine Optimization)

The script that the robot executes is developed in collaboration with SEO (Search Engine Optimization) experts, which means that the uploaded photos will pop up more and more in online searches all over the world.

            •           Real-time progress

As soon as an upload is finished, it sends a ‘ping’ to The Preservation Robot website preservationrobot.com with information including the image URL, geo-location of the specific server the image was uploaded to and more. This information is used to update the globe with real-time progress of The Preservation Robot.

 •           Platform set for growth

The robot is developed as a platform that will improve itself in all its uploading, sharing and SEO capacities.

Dimensions of The Preservation Robot:  height: 12” (30 cm), depth: 10.5” (27 cm), width: 10.5” (27 cm)

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Download images here

Link to download images of some of the world's last indigenous cultures:

Download images here (examples of the images spread by The Preservation Robot)

Download images here (from the website)

Jimmy Nelson Bas Korsten

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About Jimmy Nelson

Jimmy Nelson is a photographer and storyteller. His dream has always been to create awareness about our world’s indigenous cultures through his photography. He has wanted to create a visual document that shows us and future generations the beauty of how they live.

Since 2010, Jimmy Nelson has been traveling around the world to document some of the most iconic indigenous cultures on the planet. On his journeys he is continuously witnessing the speed with which the amazing communities are embracing the future. He has come to realize, after a life spent traveling, that his camera is the perfect tool for making contact and building intimate and unique connections.

What started as a naive engagement with the peoples he met during work assignments, has over a period of three decades turned into a personal project. The book ‘Before they pass away’ is an homage to the cultures he will probably never fully understand, but who will never stop luring him to explore.

Since the beginning of 2016, Jimmy has been on 10 new journeys. This is the start of a new book, which will be published in autumn of 2018. For this second book Jimmy plans to visit another unique 35 indigenous cultures around the globe. From the Northern reaches of Siberia with the Khanys reindeer herders, to the deep jungles of the Amazon with the Pataxo. From the Himalayas with the Laylap in Bhutan to the last hidden outposts of Africa with the Mundari in isolated South Sudan.