ROBOTa

I am the master. My apprentices are robots. In my studio, Basia Spot labors under my control. I am her teacher, as Andrea del Verrocchio taught Leonardo da Vinci during the Renaissance.

I have taken apprentices in order to teach the next generation—to experimentally code what robots may someday be able to do on their own—and also to learn how to paint anew. The works produced by my robot, Basia Spot, are abstract, not by design, but due to the nature in which the robot operates. The "natural" output of Basia is abstract, and the painting is an authentic record of the learning process I have experienced in working with Spot.

Like the craftsmen in the great art guilds of the renaissance, my robotic apprentice worked directly under my control. In contrast to generative art, I did not allow the robot to operate autonomously nor did I relinquish my individual artistic expression to the machine.

In contrast to abstraction as a design element, abstraction in these machine works is a record of an authentic learning process, a collaborative endeavor between a human and a robot. However, the machine is merely an extension of the artist’s hand and, as a result, the authorship stays with the artist.

Apprenticeship begins by introducing each of my students to traditional painting implements and materials. Holding a brush or an oil stick, the robot is guided through gestures that I improvise or program in advance. These gestures are inspired by my students’ motor control and also reveal their mechanical limitations.

Imperfections make robot art strangely original. The threat to human artists and their exhausted abstract gesticulations is found in the machines’ mistakes. Through their errors, robots promise to make art interesting again—interesting for people and perhaps one day for their fellow machines.

ROBOTa

SERIES

Heterobota Scroll

Heterobota Scroll

[Exhibition view]

First Grade

First Grade

Oil sticks with acrylic ground on linen, quadrupedal robot, 70" x 52"

Multiples

Multiples

Oil sticks with acrylic ground on linen, quadrupedal robot, 56" x 56"

Music Band

Music Band

Oil sticks with acrylic ground on linen, quadrupedal robot, 120" x 51"

Emperor

Emperor

Oil sticks with acrylic ground on linen, quadrupedal robot, 52" x 52"

Madonna and Child

Madonna and Child

Oil sticks with acrylic ground on linen, quadrupedal robot, 48" x 48"

Language

Language

Oil sticks with acrylic ground on panels, quadrupedal robot, 12" x 12"

Self Portrait with a Hat

Self Portrait with a Hat

Oil sticks with acrylic ground on linen, quadrupedal robot, 48" x 40"

Recess

Recess

Oil sticks with acrylic ground on linen, quadrupedal robot, 50" x 50"

Forest

Forest

Oil sticks with acrylic ground on linen, quadrupedal robot, 54" x 54"

Self Portrait

Self Portrait

Oil sticks with acrylic ground on linen, quadrupedal robot, 56" x 48"

Choros

Choros

Acrylic on linen, quadrupedal robot, 48" x 48"

March in Navy

March in Navy

Acrylic on linen, quadrupedal robot, 48" x 48"

Round and Round

Round and Round

Acrylic on linen, quadrupedal robot, 48" x 90"

See Spot Dance

See Spot Dance

Acrylic on linen, quadrupedal robot, 48" x 48"

Sunrise March

Sunrise March

Acrylic on linen, quadrupedal robot, 48" x 48"

[Gallery showing of Robota Series]