SEE SPOT PAINT
I paint heroic portraits of technology. Arranging modern machinery in formal compositions, I appropriate the tradition of royal portraiture to evoke the power they command in human society today. More recently, I have been working with advanced robots as my subjects.
In this experimental piece, part of a series in which the subject has become the medium, the painting was executed by a quadruped robot. Like the craftsman in the great art guilds of the renaissance, my robotic apprentice worked directly under my control. In contrast to generative art, in this series I do not allow the robot to operate autonomously nor do I relinquish my individual artistic expression to the machine.
True to McLuhan, “the medium is the message” in this piece. It is a portrait of the medium, a robot used to render itself. The challenges of using traditional materials by an advanced robot, gives the resulting piece a sense of spontaneity and play. What attracts me to using a robot is this innocence in their mark-making, like a child learning to use crayons or fingerpaint.
Like any medium, using a robot imposes limitations on my artistic practice. My expression is filtered or affected, creating imperfections and artifacts. Like drawing with your left hand, accidentals are introduced in the process. This idiosyncratic output stands in sharp contrast to the natural function of a machine: mass-produced, standardized and repetitive.
In contrast to abstraction as a design element, abstraction in these machine works is a record of an authentic learning process, a collaborative endeavor between a human artist and a robot. However, the machine is merely an extension of the artist’s hand and as a result, the authorship stays with the artist.