Automated Robots Challenge a Multi-Billion Dollar Art Market

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Robotic technology is revolutionizing the world. The multi-billion dollar global art marketIf Canadian engineering students, entrepreneurs and art consultants get their way.

They’ve merged art and technology in a computer-controlled device that shows an uncanny ability to create remarkable reproductions of gallery-quality paintings.

A video still of a robot arm painting a mounted canvas. (Acrylic Robotics)

The AI-powered Art Robot from Acrylic Robotics is a new tech start-up in MontrealUses artificial neural networks and machine learning to steer a fast-moving robotic hand with a paintbrush attached.

It reproduces existing images stored in a data file by creating acrylic paintings on canvas. The copy is almost exact but has subtle and minor differences based on the pigments, paints, brush used, stroke force, etc.

It’s partly a copy, partly a new work, created by machines that can identify patterns, learn from their previous work, and take in artistic directions or instruction.

Along with the ability to reproduce a single specific artwork by automated robot comes the much larger potential of reproducing an artists’ paintings at scale. As an author would have a copy of their book reproduced, or as a musician would release a mass-produced CD. Painters may soon see that their work is more widely available, enjoyed, and purchased once it has been reproduced using robots. Acrylic offers a variety of complementary services to artists, including sales management and manufacturing solutions, distribution, and fulfillment.

woman stands next to robotic arm with framed picture of robot wall

“Self-portrait,” designed by Chloe Ryan, painted by Acrylic Robots. (Acrylic Robotics)

Acrylic Robotics was co-founded by McGill mechanical engineering student (and fine artist herself) Chloë Ryan, collaborating with a team of mechanical engineering, robotics, software & design students from McGill, McMaster, Waterloo and other universities and tech institutions across Canada.

The Montreal-based startup announced the Acrylic Aurograph after more than three years in development. Recent live and on-air demos have shown that the mechanical artist can create near-identical copies of original paintings.

Ryan presented her robotic technology to the Hardware Tech and Founders Showcase at the Toronto Tech Business Development Centre OneEleven last fall. Hosted by the start-up support organisation Journey, the hardware exhibition featured several new tech firms, including Acrylic and AAVAA which is developing ways for people to communicate with each other. Face and eye movements can be used to control digital gadgets) .

three scenes in montage show robotic arm painting lion's head and eyes in close-up

Matt Chessco’s LionThe robot and artist worked together to create the artwork. (Matt Chessco)

Acrylic’s AI-powered robot and digital brushstroke tracking and emulation system was shown to mimic an individual artist’s unique style and technique: the way they hold a brush, the pressure they use to stroke the canvas, the way they mix their pigments and the way they layer their colours.

The piercing eye and flowing mane are a work of art called LionMatt Chessco is a Toronto-based artist (who was once a mechanical engineer). The reproductions are almost identical, but when you step closer – as you might in any Gallery – you see more detail in the piece: the slight variations and unique characteristics make it a ‘one-off’.

From its very first demonstrations AcrylicIt is planning major developments in 2024. It already offers its exact robotic reproductions as limited editions of museum-quality paintings under its Rosco label.

Chimera is a new service that promises to create unique artworks based on an image, idea, or text prompt.

Acrylic Robotics is also expected to release a new series of paintings in February. Peter Triantos, an abstract artist from Toronto.

And the company plans to announce and name members of its advisory board, including other well-known – and original –  creatives from the art world.

 

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