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Will Robots Replace Artists In The Future?

Call it Jean-Michel Botsquiat.

by Zach Sokol
12 November 2013, 6:53pm

The further we plunge into the future, the next generation, the unknown, the more we incorporate autonomous machines to increase efficiency and precision. From surgery to flipping gourmet burgers, we are trusting robots to complete our work. What about carrying out our creative endeavors, though? Can we replace artists with microchips, wires, and metal? 

Matthias Dörfelt, an LA-based communication designer and new media artist, is testing out this possibility with his project Mechanical Parts. The artist has designed and programmed a robot named Robo Faber to make autonomous drawings based on a system Dörfelt developed for earlier projects Weird Faces and I Follow.

The earlier illustration works incorporated the open source, vector graphic scripting program, PaperJS, to create computer-generated faces. Dörfelt used similar technology with Mechanical Parts (along with Arduino driver software) to allow Robo Faber to draw an infinite number of sketches and designs. Call it Jean-Michel Botsquiat.

The robot can draw straight lines and perfect curves, and although the final products are often a bit abstract (or messy), Dörfelt desired for the machine to make natural or human-looking creations. The scribbles may sometimes look like intentional designs, but not always. The design instructions were made random on purpose. The meaning is in the eyes of the beholder.

Sure, Robo Faber looks like a Roomba with a RISD degree, but the possibility of autonomous, never-tiring robots creating art could become a more widespread reality before we know it. Soon we may see robots replacing caricature artists around Central Park, or even tattoo artists getting replice by "perfect" mechanical hands. 

Is the robot ripping off Keith Harring?

Would you go to a robotic solo show at the MoMA? The machines' creativity is programmed, but films like A.I. and other, real-life advancements suggest that we should not be surprised if sentient bots are around the corner. The possibility is looming, though we wouldn't invest in mechanical masterpieces quite yet--robots don't always get it right.

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See more of Dörfelt's work here.


Mechanical Parts
autonomous robot
matthias dorfelt
robo faber
robot art