This Artsy Computer Lets You Paint In Three Places At Once

A Viennese artist will get two robot pals to help him paint in different countries across Europe--simultaneously.

Replications and screenprints get art to the masses, but are never artifacts in themselves--that’s reserved for the original piece that felt the artist’s brush stroke. What if an artist isn’t there to paint… but it’s still his hand painting? Viennese artist Alex Kiessling’s “Long Distance” will tinker with that concept using synced robots to simultaneously create the same artwork across Europe.

Beginning at 11 a.m. on September 26, Kiessling will paint at the Ovalhalle in Vienna’s MuseumsQuartier, and his two industrial robot “partners” (one in Berlin’s Breitscheidplatz, another next to Nelson’s Column in London’s Trafalgar square) will create an identical image in real-time via satellite transmission. Spectators will be provided screens at each location to track the progress of the other two works-in-progress while a live stream will go up for online viewers.

Kiessling appears to be using ABB IRB 2600 model industrial robots, a compact, lightweight model with a variety of industrial applications, from dispensing to assembly to arc and laser cutting. Sensors linked to Kiessling’s movements will route directions to the robots; while the video above has the robots using ink markers, there’s no indication what material Kiessling and his robots will use.

Kiessling does, however, admit that, due to several factors, the robots’ editions will not be identical copies of his production. These inconsistencies means each robot will give its own “signature” to its piece, resulting in a triptych of eerily similar (but not identical) works. Kiessling’s artistic focus is on virtual worlds--alternate realities--and the complex levels of man’s existence. Heady stuff, but applicable: In this case, where does the artist end and the robot replication begin? We’ve integrated robots so much into our lives, but it may not be long before they start asking for credit for their work.

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