The Mechanical Nun - YBCA & Burning Man 2014 Art Project

Mechanical Nun is a spiritual robot that listens to confessions, absolves and visualizes sins. She will be exhibited at the YBCA in SF and at Burning Man 2014.
Oren Schaedel
San Francisco, California
United States
7 Team Members

Short Summary

The Mechanical Nun is a robot dressed as a Nun that listens to confessions of sins and creates an interactive graphical representation, the Sin City map of San Francisco. She offers relief from isolating guilt by demonstrating resoundingly that no sinner is alone. To complement the Nun, a Confession Booth provides a private and immersive sensory experience that reacts to the sinner's confession. 

The Nun and Booth will start their missionary work at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts on November 2nd as part of Project Nunway, a charity fundraiser. The Nun and Booth will also make it to Burning Man, but we don't want to stop there, we want to reach sinners worldwide.  Hence, we're designing an open-source application for broad distribution, to create a searchable library of sins.

What We Need & What You Get

We are raising $6000 to bring the Mechanical Nun and Confession Booth to Project Nunway at the YBCA, they will stay there during the Distopian Futures exhibition, and make it out to Burning Man. The cost is for the materials of the robot the costume, the Confession Booth and its immersive sensory environment. Everything else is being done by volunteers. 

The Impact

Isolation and loneliness have become epidemics. Once, traditional support systems such as the church provided avenues for relief. As these support systems crumble within modern society, millions of people suffer from self-imposed guilt without community support. The Mechanical Nun is an art project by-the-people, for-the-people, which strives to ease guilt through transparency. 

Other Ways You Can Help

If you can't contribute financially but still want to help, here are several ways: 

  1. Spread the word - tell your friends about the campaign.
  2. Help us visualize sins anonymously - Fork our repo on GitHub (coming soon).
  3. Help us dress the Mechanical Nun. We need designers to make the Mechanical Nun feel reassuring and 'Nunly.'
  4. Come by to one of our meetups and help us build the booth or design the application.


  • What happens if we don't raise the funds? 

The Nun will still be at Project Nunway V but the Confessional Booth will not. Come to the fundraiser to confess your sins and see where your fellow sinners are in San Francisco!

  •  What happens to the Nun after Project Nunway V: 

The Nun and Booth will be at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco until we coordinate future missionary work. Come talk to her at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts. 

  • Who decides how our confessions are shared? 

All confessions are anonymous and everyone has access to the text of the confession. You can look at the library of confessions and think of different ways that you would like to look and visualize sins, indulgences and confessions. This is a for-the-people, by-the-people art project

  • What will the Mechanical Nun do?

The Nun surveys sinners for their sins and indulgences, and maps sins geographically by type, creating an aesthetic visual representation of the sins that characterize all of our lives.

  • What will the Confessional Booth do?

The Confessional Booth provides a private and introspective experience with sensory feedback individualized to the confessor's sin.

  • How will data be used?

In addition to mapping sin type and geography, we will be able to catalog and analyze anonymised demographics and characteristics of sinners and their sins, to reveal to the public facts about the behaviors we may find shameful. The application will catalog a library of sins - a searchable stream of people's confessions - to create a living record of our humanity

  • How will anonymity be guaranteed?

No images or personal facts (names, addresses) are collected. We want only the content of your sin.

  • Who are the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence and what is their connection to the project?

The Sisters is a group who's been devoted, through art and performance, to supporting queer causes and marginalized individuals since 1979. Please check out their website at: They were a natural inspiration for our project, and with their blessing, we aim to take it further. We want to take their message of acceptance and bring it forth to everybody.

Find This Campaign On
raised by 53 people in 1 month
49% funded
0 time left
$6,000 USD goal
Flexible Funding This campaign has ended and will receive all funds raised.
Campaign Closed
This campaign ended on November 2, 2013
Select a Perk
  • $10USD
    Afterparty Ticket

    Join the Project Nunway afterparty at YBCA

    11 out of 100 claimed

    Estimated delivery: November 2013
  • $20USD
    Bumper sticker

    A bumper sticker of the Mechanical Nun project

    6 out of 200 claimed

    Estimated delivery: October 2013
  • $25USD
    Photo at Project Nunway

    Holiday photo at Project Nunway with a Sister or Mechanical Nun

    4 out of 25 claimed

    Estimated delivery: November 2013
  • $50USD
    Be the voice of the Nun

    Provide your voice to the mechanical nun for absolving sinners. In our app, a random voice will read forgiving words or a poem to each confessor after their confession - you can be the one to offer someone their relief.

    5 out of 50 claimed

    Estimated delivery: November 2013
  • $80USD
    Laser cut Paddle

    Absolve yourself or a partner with the Mechanical Nun exclusive paddle. You can serve cheese on it as well! They will be ready for teh Holidays. * + Shipping and Handling

    0 out of 70 claimed

    Estimated delivery: December 2013

    VIP pass, Project Nunway

    VIP seating, complimentary cocktails, souvenir photo, & admission to Nov 1 dress rehearsal

    4 out of 4 claimed

    Estimated delivery: November 2013
  • $100USD
    Bring the Nun to your event

    Bring the Mechanical Nun to your event. The Nun will roam your event, interacting with guests and offering forgiveness for confessions. We will also set up a projection screen to display the map of Sin City and other sinful stats. (Bay Area only)

    3 out of 50 claimed

    Estimated delivery: November 2013
  • $120USD
    Paddle with Custom Message

    Have your custom message engraved on a Paddle / Cutting Board. They will be ready for the Holidays. *+ Shipping and Handling

    1 out of 30 claimed

    Estimated delivery: December 2013
  • $150USD
    YBCA yearly pass

    Full-access yearly passes to the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts

    1 out of 2 claimed

    Estimated delivery: November 2013
  • $150USD
    Sisters Blessing

    Event blessing from the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence

    0 out of 5 claimed

    Estimated delivery: November 2013
  • $1,000USD
    Celebrity Cocktail

    Cocktail with celebrity MCs Sister Roma + The Go-Go's Jane Wiedlin

    0 out of 1 claimed

    Estimated delivery: November 2013
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