After meeting as a group and discussing the python powered ArtBots further, we decided it was important to clarify the purpose of our project and to revisit our artist’s statement. Instead of creating one long post about our artist’s statement we will explore it piece by piece, beginning with brief overview of our project followed by some background and context for our project.
The python-powered ArtBot project is an exploration of the intersection of two domains that are often portrayed as distinct and not overlapping: robotics and fine art. This project aims to explore how programming and robotics can be used as a creative art-making tool to produce visually interesting artwork.
One of the first and perhaps most well known examples of an art making robot is the physical version of the LOGO turtle, a version of this is pictured below. This is an early example of using programming and technology as creative tools to create art with.
“Mindstorms,” Seymour Papert, Basic Books, Inc., 1980.
There have been many more versions of this genre of robot since the first versions of LOGO. From off-the-shelf robots with art making kits that you can purchase to go with it such as the “sketch kit” for the Dash robot (pictured below)
To more involved and complicated robots such as this machine created by an artist named VanArman who has been described as a “Telerobotics” artist as his robots work with humans, not separate from them, to create art. VanArman describes himself as an “A.I. arist exploring creative algorithms” and states that his art making robots are “beyond being simple assistants” , in fact they augment his own artistic creativity.
Both of these modern examples are interesting for different reasons. The focus of Dash is on the robot itself and how it can be manipulated and programmed to make interesting shapes with its predetermined art-making tools. The focus of VanArman’s work is more about the relationship between human artist and machine artist and on the artwork that results from this relationship. Some art-making robots ditch the idea of a flat canvas and two dimensional work completely such as the unique EggBot pictured below which riffs off of CNC technology to create a machine that is capable of drawing and making art on spherical surfaces (such as eggs).
There are more art forms to consider as well. Not all art is made with mark-making tools. There are incredible examples of robots and machines that have been used to produce three dimensional sculptural works as well. For example, the gif below shows a 3D printer that has been adapted to print pottery clay to create unique ceramic pottery that would be difficult to achieve by hand.
The world of art-making robots is diverse and has exploded over the course of the last few years and continues to grow as access to fabrication tools is made easier by public makerspaces and growing interest in DIY culture.
There’s no lack of inspiration for the python-powered ArtBot project.
Up next: How the python-powered ArtBot project builds on this foundation of art making robots and how these examples have inspired our work.