Surely, robots won’t replace artists. Factory workers sure, cashiers yes, doctors maybe, but creative classes must be beyond the reach of automation, right? After all, doesn’t creative work depend upon the creativity of the intellect in question? Well, believe it or not, Dartmouth College has created an “artistic” robot capable of turning photographs into large, beautiful murals.
The robot can be thought of as a sort of “smart” spray paint can. In its current form, an image is scanned, and an apparatus is attached to a normal, everyday spray paint can. A human then waves the spray paint can around, and using a system of web cameras, the robotic apparatus automatically turns the can on and off.
Given the simple design, it’s easy to see how this system could be adapted and completely automated. But would such a system actually have any industrial use or is it merely a vanity project? Actually, while professional spray paint art is highly popular, it’s difficult for even the best artists to produce large murals. The new printing system could make it easy. This could open up spray paint art to a number of less talented artists and businesses lacking the budget to hire a true pro.
Further, while the current system only works on flat surfaces, researches believe that it can be adopted to wortk on multi-dimensional surfaces. This would mark a major breakthrough as most current surface printing technologies capable of producing similar details are limited to flat surfaces.
For now, however, robots likely won’t be replacing artists and other creatives. After all, printers and other tools have long been able to reproduce art, and computers have created stunning images before. Yet art has its own emotional and intrinsic value, and it’s questionable that anything created by a computer could reproduce this value.
The system was developed by Prof. Wojciech Jarosz and a team of international researchers.