art bag project

ARTIST NO. 29 Mental Ben

Robot baristas are popping up in barren, fluorescently lit cafes everywhere. Harvard professors are debating whether art made by computers should be considered ‘real art’. Robots are becoming more human. And while we don’t love robot baristas or computer-made art, we’re all for tech and AI improving our lives and our environment. Heck, we’ve had a hand in some coffee tech over the years – from housing the first Juggler Café Milk System and conceiving Batch Brew On Tap (via our mates at Six Simple Machines). It's the flip side we’d like to have a word with. Humans becoming robots. Algorithms are curating our mental diets, watches are telling us when to stand up, and apps are squeezing our free time in the name of ‘productivity’. If you ask us, robot mentality stifles creativity, chaos, connection – the things that lead humans to think differently and challenge the status quo. We’re not sure robots would have told us to stick art on our bags. Luckily we didn’t ask; otherwise, we wouldn’t have had the pleasure of working with fellow non-robot and creator of this Art Bag, Ben Brown, aka ‘Mentalben’. Ben’s a flat white drinker and an illustrator of over 20 years. He’s worked with the likes of Sony Music, Triple J, and Red Bull. Ben enjoys thinking up big ideas in his home studio, which he heads to after a surf at Manly, a flat white, and a catch-up with some more non-robots at what they call ‘the bench of knowledge’ in the middle of the beach at North Steyne. Ben likes to grab his flat white from Berkelo, another group of individuals thinking differently and challenging the status quo. From local sustainable certified flours to sourcing produce from a tight-knit community of suppliers, the closest thing you’ll find to a robot is their batch taps. As you make your way through this bag, we hope you stop to take a moment, break away from the productivity, and enjoy your coffee. Just because robots are doing human things doesn’t mean humans need to do robot things.