A robot to defend cultural diversity

Photographic artist Jimmy Nelson & JWT Amsterdam unleash The Preservation Robot at SXSW

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

Austin, TX, March 12 2019 The Preservation Robot was unveiled at South by Southwest Interactive Festival in Austin, Texas 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.

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. By turning the internet against itself. Literally.

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


“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.

“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.

THE PRESERVATION ROBOT.  A Robot that helps humans preserve cultural identity.

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.

“We spend a lot of time blending the digital and the physical when it comes to interactive experiences and we like to think we push the limits of what is possible. But it’s not every day we get briefed to design a robot! So we’re pretty proud to show our latest bold foray into the world of interactive experiences and robotics. The Preservation Robot project represents a synthesis of interactive design, development and fabrication techniques in the aim of helping Jimmy Nelson preserve indigenous cultures.”

Kev Mayo, Creative Technologist, SuperHero CheeseCake

"With the Preservation Robot we have laid the foundation of an ingenious learning platform that is able to constantly upload and spread content to change the world. The Preservation Robot is unique in that it will be able to expand and optimize on many fronts in order to increase its power and relevance on the future web." 

CEO, Milvum

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


Download images here (campaign image & robot)

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

Download images here (from the website)

Download images spokespeople here

Jimmy Nelson Bas Korsten

Download high res images here




CLIENT: Jimmy Nelson

Photographic Artist: Jimmy Nelson

Public Relations & Partnerships Manager: Marit Hoog

Project Manager: Coco Box


AGENCY: J. Walter Thompson Amsterdam

Creative Lead: Bas Korsten

Senior Art Director: Tunchan Kalkan

Creative: Marius Gottlieb

Creative: Jasper Korpershoek

Digital producer: Reinier Slothouber

Digital Producer: Hans Dekker

Producer: Charlotte Lilly

Producer: Anne Cliff

Design and photography: Robert Harrison

PR Director: Jessica Hartley


DIGITAL PARTNER: SuperHero CheeseCake

Rian Verhagen - Managing Partner / Director of Technology

Niels van Esch - Managing Partner / Head of Production

Kev Mayo - Creative Technologist

Mathijs Peerboom - Lead Creative Developer

Stan van Oers - Creative Developer

David van Ochten - Creative Developer

Antoine P.Kostadinoff - Interactive Art Director

Raphael Ferraz - Senior Digital Designer

Joris van Raaij - Motion Designer

Carina Schutte - QA

Pim van Daelen - UX Designer

Bas Schutte - Sr. Digital Producer



CTO: Arvind Jagesser

Developer: Kaj Oudshoorn

Developer: Tim de Jong

Developer: Albert ten Napel

Developer: Jelle Licht



Editor & Film: Tim Arnold

Motion Graphics: Tim Arnold

Sound Design: Tim Arnold

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