A.L. Productions

The Fusion of Art and Science: Combining Generative-art Technologies with Robotics

Dulcinea is a fully-automated robot that creates paintings using a brush, paints and canvas. She operates continuously, changing paint colors and washing her brush between colors as needed, until a painting is completed.

               VIDEO DEMO - Dulcinea

The robot is a custom, gantry-style design, about eleven-feet high, ten-feet wide and weighing three-thousand pounds. For manipulating the paint brush (as a human might) there are seven, high-performance, servo motors run by an Adept Technology robot controller. Housed in a six-foot high, electronic cabinet, along with the controller, are motor controls, power amplifiers, power supplies and assorted electronics. Mounted on a four-foot wide control panel are various pneumatic controls for automated paint-vessel exchanges and brush-washing operations. All operations of the robot work-cell are managed by Adept's controller. It has a real-time operating system, running three programs in parallel, using about 25,000 lines of custom code written in Adept's V+ programming language.

Two computers are involved in the creation of a painting. The first computer is a PC tower where the "artware" source-material file is created. The developmental code is written in Lisp, a powerful, high-level language, often used in the artificial intelligence and artificial life communities.

The "artware" data file is passed along a local area net to the second computer, which is an Adept Technology controller (computer) housed in the electronics cabinet adjacent to the robot. This controller manages all the operations in the robotic work cell, including servo motors for brush stroke movements, pneumatics for exchanging paint vessels, sensing paint levels in the vessels, dipping for more paint, washing the brush with clean water and pumping effluent water.

An efficient "code and test" environment is critical to evolve the desired robot brushwork, along with the desired painterly artwork. The painting is initially created using Lisp. "It is an excellent, high-level language for fast prototyping and development of artware source material for the robot", states Paul Kirby, the creator of Dulcinea and the force behind A.L. Productions.

Code for the robot work cell is written in Adept's proprietary, interpretive V+ language. "Together the languages provide for rapid experimentation, iteration, and convergence toward desired results", continues Kirby.


A. L. Productions'  website hosts a video demonstration that shows the history of a painting and the unfolding of the robots features. The painting in the video uses 10,000 ants in a complex adaptive system to develop the swirling brushstroke patterns. Stocastic methods were used in generating the background, ground and timbers. "Lisp is indeed a big deal in that video and in my work," says Paul. You can view the video here.

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