Artistic expression has always been part of what makes us human beings, and we increasingly find new ways to produce said expression. As technology advances, robots have crept into the art world. But robots are generally better at following orders than they are at creating their own masterpieces.
Proving this is e-David, a repurposed welding robot that can recreate any painting on this little blue-green marble. A triumph of programming turned this robot into a technical wizard, art-wise.
In a studio at Germany’s University of Konztanz, the welding robot lost its welding torches and earned some paintbrushes in their place. Given the range of motion the robot already had to perform its welding duties, repurposing it to create art wasn’t difficult. Same idea; different instrument. The actual programming is a bit more complicated.
e-David processes a photo of a piece of art and figures out which brushstrokes are required to recreate it. Then, the robot gets to work, stopping every few moments to take a photo of its work. It compares that to the original, makes necessary adjustments and keeps going.
Saying it can recreate any masterpiece may have been an overstatement: at the moment it can only work with acrylic paint because of how quickly it dries. Even so, it still probably feels threatening to those technical geniuses of, you know, the human race.