Deussen & Lindemeier's eDavid

A couple of years ago a video started spreading that showed an articulated robotic arm painting intricate portraits and landscapes. This robot was named eDavid and was the work of Oliver Deussen and David Lindemeier from the University of Konstanz. While many painting robots had proceeded eDavid, none painted with its delicacy or captured the imagination of such a wide audience. 

While the robot had remarkable precision it also seemed to have an artistic, almost impressionistic sensibility. So how did it go about creating its art?

When speaking of eDavid's, Deussen and Lindemeier see its paintings as more of a science than art. Their hypothesis is that "painting can be seen as an optimization process in which color is manually distributed on a canvas until one is able to recognize the content. - regardless if it is a representational painting or not." While humans handle this intuitively with a variety of processes that depend on the medium and its limitations, eDavid uses an "optimization process to find out to what extent human processes can be formulated using algorithms."

One of the processes they have nearly perfected is called feedback loops, a concept I use with my own robots and first heard about from painter Paul Klee. It is where you make a couple strokes, take a step back and look at them, adjustment your approach depending on how well those strokes accomplished your intent, then make more strokes based on the adjustment.  You do this over and over again until you finish a painting. Simple concept right? And almost mechanical, but it is how many artists paint.

So to emphasize how well the robot has become at painting with feedback loops, I leave you with my favorite eDavid creation.  Not sure what its title is, but how can you deny that the painting below looks and feels like it was painted by a skilled artist.