these robotically-painted portraits are among the first cultural artifacts of a dawning age
 

these robotically-painted portraits are among the first cultural artifacts of a dawning age

husband and wife artistic duo rob and nick carter take on digital age technologies with one of their most technically pioneering projects to date. presented at london-based gallery ben brown fine arts from february 12 through april 17, 2020, ‘dark factory portraits’ poses the intriguing questions: could a machine become a painter? could it convey human personality?

 

while many recent experiments by AI artists have demonstrated technology’s distance from human artistic achievement, the artists focused their enquiries on the execution of the machine. together with a team of software programmers and visual effects specialists, the carters set out to explore how far and fast algorithms and robotic parts could progress towards a new creative standard. presented with a pre-existing photograph, how accomplished a painted portrait can current technology be pushed to achieve?

robot portraits
frida kahlo robot painting (work in progress)

 

 

the ‘dark factory portraits’ draw their name from ‘lights-out manufacturing’ — the factories that function in the dark, as robotic systems don’t need to ‘see’ what they’re doing. in the same vein, rob and nick carter have rooted the series in reports on the future workforce. according to a study in 2013 by researchers at oxford university and deloitte, 35% of UK jobs are likely to be fully automated by the mid-2030s.

robot portraits
detail of robot painting (work in progress)

 

 

central to this thinking was the artists’ continued urge to use technology to execute their own ideas, and paint in a style they envisioned. they worked with the programmers to layer the code so that the robot could paint both loosely and to a very high level of detail where necessary. the resulting portraits of celebrated artists such as frida kahlo, andy warhol, yoko ono and damien hirst are among the first cultural artifacts of a dawning age. visitors to the exhibition at ben brown fine arts will also be able to watch industrial robot manufacturer kuka’s famous robotic arm in action as it paints entirely unguided by the human mind and eye.

robot portraits
rob and nick carter with yinka shonibare robot painting

robot portraits
yinka shonibare robot painting
painting time 46:27:30 / stroke count 11404 / 8-10th january 2020
acrylic on wooden board / 48” x48” square

these robotically-painted portraits are among the first cultural artifacts of a dawning age
pablo picasso robot painting
painting time 30:36:00 / stroke count 9646 / 14-18th december 2019
acrylic on wooden board / 48”x48” square

these robotically-painted portraits are among the first cultural artifacts of a dawning age
david hockney robot painting
painting time 37:40:04 / stroke count 11854 / 15-17th january 2020
acrylic on wooden board / 48”x48” square

these robotically-painted portraits are among the first cultural artifacts of a dawning age
yoko ono robot painting
painting time 17:24:45 hours / stroke count 7048 / 20-22nd october 2019
acrylic on wooden board / 24 x 24”

these robotically-painted portraits are among the first cultural artifacts of a dawning age
louise bourgeois robot painting
painting time 15:03:00 hours / stroke count 6102 / 14-16th october 2019
acrylic on wooden board / 24 x 24”

these robotically-painted portraits are among the first cultural artifacts of a dawning age
peter blake robot painting
painting time 14:21:45 hours / stroke count 5624 / 12-14th november 2019
acrylic on wooden board / 24 x 24”

 

 

project info: 

 

exhibition: dark factory portraits

artists: rob and nick carter

location: ben brown fine arts

dates: february 12 – april 17, 2020

    have something to add? share your thoughts in our comments section below.
    all comments are reviewed for the purposes of moderation before publishing.

    comments policy
    LOG IN
    designboom's comment policy guidelines
    generally speaking, if we publish something, it's because we're genuinely interested in the subject. we hope you'll share this interest and if you know even more about it, please share! our goal in the discussion threads is to have good conversation and we prefer constructive opinions. we and our readers have fun with entertaining ones. designboom welcomes alerts about typos, incorrect names, and the like.
    the correction is at the discretion of the post editor and may not happen immediately.

    what if you disagree with what we or another commenter has to say?
    let's hear it! but please understand that offensive, inappropriate, or just plain annoying comments may be deleted or shortened.

    - please do not make racist, sexist, anti-semitic, homophobic or otherwise offensive comments.
    - please don't personally insult the writers or your fellow commenters.
    - please avoid using offensive words, replacing a few letters with asterisks is not a valid workaround.
    - please don't include your website or e-mail address in your comments for the purpose of self-promotion.
    - please respect jury verdicts and do not discuss offensively on the competition results
    (there is only one fist prize, and designboom usually asks renown professionals to help us to promote talent.
    in addition to the awarded designs, we do feel that almost all deserve our attention, that is why we publish
    the best 100-200 entries too.)

    a link is allowed in comments as long as they add value in the form of information, images, humor, etc. (links to the front page of your personal blog or website are not okay). unwelcome links (to commercial products or services of others, offensive material etc. ) will be redacted. and, ... yes, spam gets banned. no, we do not post fake comments.

    PRODUCT LIBRARY

    a diverse digital database that acts as a valuable guide in gaining insight and information about a product directly from the manufacturer, and serves as a rich reference point in developing a project or scheme.

    art news

    ×
    keep up with our daily and weekly stories
    504,237 subscribers
    - see sample
    - see sample
    designboom magazine