Although Patrick Tresset still regards himself an artist, he no longer paints. He still produces portraits, but doesn’t draw them with his hands. Tresset instead has turned to robotics, creating a computational system that is “artistic, expressive, and obsessive” in its ability to draw, reports Make. More than just a copy machine, Tresset’s robots are designed with an “autonomous artistic creativity” that makes them capable of producing “objects that are considered as artworks.”
Tresset, a roboticist and artist at the University of London, has spent the better part of a decade developing his drawing robots. He has worked closely with Oliver Deussen of the University of Konstanz in Germany and Frederic Fol Leymarie, a computer scientist with expertise in robotic-based visualization. This project is a serious endeavor with the researchers creating advanced robotic systems, testing them extensively, and publishing their results in scientific journals.
Tresset detailed two of his robots, Paul and e-David, in a paper published in 2014. Both of these robots use a camera to visualize their subject and a robotic arm to do the actual drawing. A computational system provides the programming that brings each robot to life. On the hardware side, Paul contains a three-jointed planar arm with a fourth joint added to raise and lower the pen so it can contact the paper.
The more advanced creation is e-David. A machine built with an arm from an industrial robot, e-David is capable of grasping five different brushes and can dip each brush into a paint container, allowing for the use of up to 24 different colors in each painting.
Though e-David is more advanced, Paul, which produced the “Paul’s Memories” series of paintings, remains Tresset’s most successful robot. The Paul-derived paintings have been exhibited in major art museums and have been acquired by galleries, museums, and art fairs for display. Based on the feedback provided by the art world and the art-loving public, Tresset believes the creations of Paul indeed “are considered as works of art.”