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Interactive Robotic Painting Machine Can Hear You

The Interactive Robotic Painting Machine is the creation of artist and composer Ben Grosser, who is working on an MFA in New Media at the University of Illinois. The robot has a microphone to listen to ambient sounds; it uses a genetic algorithm to move its paintbrush.


(Interactive Robotic Painting Machine video)

Our everyday interactions are increasingly mediated by technology, be they mobile phones, chat systems, or social networking sites. These systems are designed to anticipate and support our needs and desires while facilitating those interactions. As these systems grow in complexity, or intelligence, how does that intelligence change what passes through them? Further, how does that intelligence evolve to make its own work for its own needs?

This last question served as the launching point for my interactive robotic painting machine. Does an art-making machine of my design make work for me or for itself? How does machine vision differ from human vision, and is that difference visible in its output? Is my own consciousness reinforced by the system or does it become lost within? In other words, is this machine alive, with agency as yet another piece of the technium, or is it our own anthropomorphization of the system that makes us think about it in these ways?
(From Ben Grosser)

Although it is not quite a prediction, SF fans were treated to robotically produced art in the 2003 movie I, Robot, when Sonny rapidly (!) sketched a picture of his dream about a bridge.

I can't think of a robotic artist from the earlier periods of science fiction; perhaps readers can help. However, the psychotropic houses from J.G. Ballard's 1962 story The Thousand Dreams of Stellavist could reshape themselves sculpturally in response to visitors.

From Discovery; thanks to an anonymous reader who kindly tipped me to this story.

Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 11/21/2011)

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