Friday, July 27, 2012

Manchester University installs automated Pray-o-Mat booth

The University of Manchester has installed a Prayer-o-Mat, an automated multi-faith touchscreen prayer booth that allows users to cue up a prayer from a faith of their choice, the UK Press Association reported.

The Pray-O-Mat is an adaptation of German artist Oliver Sturm’s Gebetomat, a coin-operated converted photo booth that contains recorded versions of more than 300 prayers in 65 different languages. Orthodox Jewish prayers are available on the machine, as well as voodoo rituals from Cuba and Australian Aboriginal didgeridoo cries to their ancestors. Sturm gathered some of the recordings; others were taken from radio archives.

The English-language exhibit was introduced by Dr. Ralf Brand, principal investigator for the university’s Multi Faith Spaces research project. The three-year research project on multi-faith spaces has encompassed research of 250 multi-faith spaces in 11 countries, focusing on the United Kingdom.

Sturm’s Gebetomat was inspired by a 1999 visit to New York, where he could not understand directions from a machine in the city’s subway system. In a profile by Der Spiegel last year, Sturm suggested Ground Zero as a possible venue to house his prayer machine. -- JTA

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