Ancient Robot Creates Modern Art

They say that there’s more to a Jackson Pollock painting than randomly scattering paint on a canvas, and the auction value of his work seems to verify that claim. If you want to create some more conventional artwork, however, but are missing the artistic muse that inspired Pollock, maybe you can put your creative energies to work building a robot that will create the art for you.

[Dane Kouttron] was able to get his hands on an old SCARA robotic arm, and was recently inspired to create a paintbrush-weilding robot with it for the 2nd Annual Robot Art competition. Getting one of these ancient (circa 1983) robots working again is no easy task though. [Dane] used LinuxCNC to help reverse engineer the robot’s controls and had to build a lot of supporting hardware to get the extremely heavy robot to work properly. The entire process took around two months, and everything from color selection to paint refill to the actual painting itself is completely automated.

Be sure to check out the video after the break to see the robot in action. The writeup goes into great detail about the robot, and includes everything from reverse engineering the encoders to auto-cleaning a paintbrush. If you don’t have a SCARA robot arm in your parts drawer, though, there are lots of other options to explore for robot-created artwork.

21 thoughts on “Ancient Robot Creates Modern Art

  1. Worth noting that voting is still open for the 2nd Annual Robot Art competition at (requires FB login to vote)
    There are a lot of really cool submissions there, it’s very much worth checking out.

  2. This isn’t robot art, it’s robots being used as a large-scale printer of existing images.

    If you dig through the other entries in the competition it looks like there are some algorithmic-creative works there, some of which are pretty okay…much more interesting, particularly since the fun video seems to have gotten the Reddit Hug of Death and is currently down.

  3. I’m no fan of Pollock’s works, but, for those who doubt the intentionality of them:

    ”’They were, like, commenting, and they used the words “chance operations” — which was no bother to me because I was hearing it regularly from John Cage — and the power and the wonder of it and so forth. This really angered Pollock very deeply and he said, “Don’t give me any of your ‘chance operations.’” He said, “You see that doorknob?” and there was a doorknob about fifty feet from where he was sitting that was, in fact, the door that everyone was going to have to exit. Drunk as he was, he just with one swirl of his brush picked up a glob of paint, hurled it, and hit that doorknob smack-on with very little paint over the edges. And then he said, “And that’s the way out.””’ -Filmmaker Stan Brakhage

    1. All I have seen of his work is little better than a Rorschach to me.
      Tell me when he makes a painting that looks like more that flung paint (a message independent of the medium).

  4. “New paint brush creates masterpiece.” I’m willing to go out on a limb and say programmers and artists create the art and the robot is used as a tool. Please put the people in the process.

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