These drawings are the result of a collaboration between an artist, Jim
Johnson, a faculty member in the Department of Fine Arts, and a group of
scientists from the Department of Computer Science in the School of
Engineering of the University of Colorado. They also represent a unique
collaboration between an artist and a robot computer developed at the
Media Lab at MIT. This computer is capable of holding in memory small
programs which enable it to respond to various stimuli, such as sound and
light. It is constructed of Lego bricks and has two motorized wheels.
When a pen or marker is attached to it, "the brick" can draw lines as it
moves over the paper drawing surface.
Various programs were downloaded to "the brick" which either responded to, or traced the brush & ink lines drawn by the artist. When short strokes were drawn across the path of "the brick" it would respond by backing up and moving in another direction. Thus, several of the drawings were made by attempting to keep "the brick" in the middle of the paper or from going off the edge of it. One drawing was produced by drawing a line around a rectangle which "the brick" traced and eventually left to follow the edge of the rectangle. This routine produced a tangent line, which surprised and delighted the group. Two other drawings, "Game 1" and "Game 2", were the product of a large group of participants who attempted to keep "the brick" inside a large rectangle. The resulting drawings traced the lines which went outside the rectangle.
For the artist, the project had an unexpected result. After several unsuccessful attempts to incorporate experience acquired in using the computer to create works of art, he returned to a more direct approachthat of drawing strokes and lines by hand. Doing so, rekindled an interest and appreciation of analog modes of art-making.