Robotics is an artistic medium that uses computer-controlled robots to produce works that incorporate movement, interaction and exploration. Robotics-based art investigates the potential and limitations of AI, autonomy and human-machine interaction. Tinguely and Paik, who developed musical robots and kinetic sculptures, were among the pioneers in this field throughout the 20th century. Since then, robotics in art has changed and expanded, using many methods and procedures such as 3D printing, CNC machining, robotic manipulation and telerobotics. The use of robotics in art also raises moral, aesthetic and social questions about the place of technology in culture and society. Some artists consider the possibilities of telepresence and virtual reality, while others consider the military or industrial roots of robotic research.
Manufacturers and suppliers of industrial robots for industries such as automotive, metalworking, food and healthcare are among the sources of inspiration and materials for artists working with robotics. The best known and most widely used robot manufacturers include Kuka, ABB, Fanuc and Motoman, which offer a wide variety of models with varying capabilities of reach, speed and precision. These robots can be modified and programmed to perform creative activities such as painting, sculpting, assembly or material handling. Industrial robots have been used in examples of artistic robotics such as:
– The RoboAction project, which makes clay sculptures from the viewer’s gestures recorded by a camera using a Kuka robot.
– The Communist Manifesto is handwritten on a wall of the Robotlab with an ABB industrial robot.
– The Blind Robot simulates tactile exploration by gently touching visitors’ faces with a Fanuc robot.
– The Robot Improv Circus theatre production, in which a Motoman robot interacts with a human actor in sequences created on the fly.
The RoboAction project is an initiative of the University of Malaga that uses a KUKA KR 5 SCARA R550 Z320 robot to develop a practical application that demonstrates the robot’s capabilities³. The Blind Robot is an art installation by Louis-Philippe Demers that uses a Fanuc LR Mate 200iC robot to explore tactile interaction between the robot and humans. Robot Improv Circus is a theatrical improvisation show that uses a Motoman SDA10F robot to interact with human actors and the audience.