Developing Fine-Touch Robotic Pathing Using Chinese Brush Painting as a Target Domain

Project: Research project

Project Details


This study proposes to teach a robotic arm the art of Chinese brush painting, guided by an expert engineer and a highly trained ink painter. The goal is not to automate human art, but to understand the differences between human and robotic motion using this artistic challenge as a target domain. This research will require us to interpret the movements of this art form in a new way. Traditional methods of teaching painting transfer knowledge from teacher to student via an implicit sharing of bodily experience, whereas training these movements in robotics will require a new understanding and perspective on this cultural legacy. The IBA Global Employment Institute identified automation as a key opportunity for economies like Hong Kong and Singapore, where highly educated populations can benefit from fusing creative and cybernetic systems, providing that creative professionals can gain a fundamental grasp of technological matters (Wisskirchen et al, 2017). Studies in engineering have used Chinese brush painting as a target domain, however, none have worked with trained artists to program or evaluate the results. Chinese brush painting is a deep cultural art form that records fine movements expressed via the motion of ink, brush, and water on paper. A new generation of programmable robots (‘Cobots’) and sophisticated non-specialist software have made it cheaper and easier for engineers and artists to collaborate on designing new approaches to robotic motion based on their mutual expertise. In collaboration with an engineer experienced in robotic ink painting (Co-I Yao) and a highly trained brush
painting artist (Co-I Koon), this project will begin by scrutinising prior engineering studies in robotic pathing for brush painting and devising new approaches, led by a PI trained in painting, creative technology, and art history. Our goal is not to replicate human artistry but to identify differences between human and robotic movement using one of the most nuanced art forms for the study of fine-touch motion, and publish these differences as catalysts for a deeper exploration into how robots become physically integrated into human lives. This project encapsulates the potential of interdisciplinary
collaboration in deciphering and shaping the evolution of human-technology relationships. Through conference presentations, peer-reviewed publications, public exhibition, and teaching enhancements, this research will address philosophical questions in the future of art and automation alongside potential insights for new approaches to robotic pathing.
StatusNot started
Effective start/end date1/01/2531/12/26


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