Agnieszka Pilat is not your typical artist.
She doesn’t use brushes, pencils or even her own hands to create her artwork.
Instead, she uses robots — specifically, robot dogs made by Boston Dynamics
The robot dogs that paint like humans
Pilat, who was born in Poland and now lives in the U.S., spent months teaching three of these four-legged machines named Basia, Vanya and Bunny to hold a paintbrush in their “mouths” and move them across a large canvas, turning the paint into abstract art.
They use sensors, cameras and artificial intelligence to perceive and navigate their surroundings.
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Pilat said she first became fascinated by the robot dogs when she saw them on YouTube. She contacted Boston Dynamics and asked if she could collaborate with them. The company agreed and taught her how to use the robot dogs. She then painted a few portraits of one of them before she started actively working with them as her creative companions.
The robot dogs are rewarded with a residency
The robots have been rewarded with a four-month residency at the National Gallery of Victoria (NGV) in Melbourne, Australia, where they are creating art in their custom-built studio.
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The exhibit is called “Heterobota,” and the robots are fully autonomous. Pilat says this was a significant shift in her practice. Previously, she was always in the studio with the robots, where they felt more like an extension of her arm.
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How the robot dogs paint autonomously
To navigate the space, the robots rely on little cubes of QR codes that are scattered about the space. When they need to rest and recharge, they return to their docking stations. Pilat worked with engineers and the museum to bring her vision to life. The result is a series of 36 paintings that resemble human works of art.
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Some of these paintings have sold for up to $40,000 at auction.
The robots can be seen painting, navigating their environment and self-charging in the show, which runs until April 7. The exhibition’s theme is generative AI. Pilat said a language is embedded in the 16 symbols featured in the paintings.
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Giving technology a voice
Pilat says she wanted to use her art skills to train a new generation of painters and to give technology a voice. She says she sees technology as a form of life, and she wants to explore its potential for creativity and expression. She says she also wanted to challenge the perception that technology is cold, impersonal or even threatening. Instead, she says she wants to show that technology can be warm, playful and even artistic.
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Kurt’s key takeaways
Agnieszka Pilat is an amazing artist who uses robot dogs as her collaborators. She taught them how to paint, and now we get to see the awesome art they are creating. She also shows us through her exhibit that technology can be creative and expressive, not cold or threatening. Her exhibition, “Heterobota,” is a unique and inspiring showcase of the fusion of art and technology.
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