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Music Inspires this Painting Robot

Friday, October 14, 2016

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Those who don’t care for abstract painting often argue that a 4-year-old could produce the same type of art. But what about a music-listening robot?

Moscow artist Dmitry Morozov has made that a reality, too: He engineered what he calls the “electropollock,” a reference to the master abstract expressionist, Jackson Pollock. It’s essentially a robot that creates abstract paintings determined by music that it “listens” to.

How It Works

At the heart of the electropollock is an Arduino Uno microcontroller, which Morozov has programmed to respond to the frequency and amplitude of the peaks in the music. The device then uses an algorithm to control solenoid valves and servomotors, which in turn determine certain aspects of the machine’s painting action.

::vtol:: electropollock from ::vtol:: on Vimeo.

The ink is distributed through an old printer mechanism, and reaches the paper via brushes, with a fan helping to distribute in a spraying manner. The music-based algorithm controls the amount of ink used, the brushes’ activity, the speed of the paper feeding through the device.

The result—well, it isn’t always pretty, necessarily, but it’s definitely interesting.

Other Painting Robots

It’s not the first robot to paint, by a long shot. There are robots on the market already for industrial applications. And as we reported earlier this year, Dartmouth College has developed a mural-painting robot, and in 2013, German researchers created a sophisticated robot that they said was built for forgery. But those machines, complex as they are, are built to replicate an image, whereas electropollock creates original works based on musical input.

An electropollock original may never be worth as much as a Pollock, but Morozov has taken one form of art—music—and used mechanical means to transform it into another. Like the original abstract expressionists, the electropollock’s work may face some critics, but there’s no denying that it’s novel, and tests the boundaries of visual art.


Tagged categories: Artists; Asia Pacific; Color + Design; Color + Design; Decorative painting; EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa); Latin America; North America; Robotics

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