Interactive Media Arts Capstone Project Conceptual Change


A robot that helps me to create large scale drawings with the reference to an image of my choice.

The reference image will be converted to grayscale and divided into a 20 by 20 grid (or the canonical 32 by 32, if time permits). Each time the robot creates an abstract/representational drawing within one piece of 20-by-20-cm paper, achieving the same tone as the corresponding cell of the reference image. All 400 (or 1024) small drawings will be put together as one 4-by-4-meter (or 6.4-by-6.4-meter) drawing that represents the reference image. If time permits, color will be explored.

A sample drawing by hand can be found below, which shows that the tone of each cell doesn’t have to be very precise to achieve the desired result.



The worst case scenario is that the robot will create one drawing at a time and the paper will be replaced manually, but since such approach will clearly be time consuming (from a few hours to a few days), here are a few solutions to speed up the process:

  • Line Finders
    • Creating grid of 20 by 20 (or 32 by 32) on ground with dark black lines (hopefully reusable), each cell measures 20 by 20 cm
    • The robot will start from one corner of the grid, the robot will be able to navigate on the grid by following the line and counting how many cells are passed
      • A digital compass, which I didn’t get to work with Raspberry Pi, can help to get heading
      • Or with the help of other sensors, gyroscope, accelerometer, or QR code with camera, etc
    • Within each cell, the robot will detect the edge by the black lines , which might be interfered with the drawing itself
      • A lighter (gray) or different (blue) color might solve the problem, but that is not ideal, as a dark color is prefered to create more contrast in the drawing
      • A thinner drawing instrument may help, but the contrast will lose even more compared with above solution
  • Computer vision
    • Placing a camera on the ceiling and a QR code or specific color on the robot
    • The computer that’s connected to the camera will be able to position the robot and send commands to the robot
      • Not sure about the delay of positioning the robot, but there’s almost no latency for sending the command through WiFi, assuming the WiFi connection is stable
    • The computer can either control the robot for the whole process, which makes the robot less autonomous, or just helps to navigate from cell to cell and then, for either cell, the robot will detect edges by black lines
  • More
    • The battery won’t last long enough to finish the drawing all at once, so the process may be broken into smaller parts, or the robot has to be connected to power supply
    • Multiple robots can further decrease the production time, but costs money
    • Other creative approaches can be used to constrain the robot: accelerometers, etc


  • When observed closely, the drawings are abstract, and when observed far away, the original reference will be more visible
    • It shows how abstract an object can be when (the object is or pixels are) enlarged significantly
    • Each cell/pixel is a fantasy of the robot, it’s simple, immature, or almost purposeless
    • The final artwork is a combination of abstraction and representation, robotics and human, organic and machinery
  • I want to make large scale artworks
    • Instead of demonstrating its importance by aimlessly making it big, I want the viewers to look close and see the details
    • Large scale work can only be viewed in person, not on a phone or a computer
    • The psychological impact when viewing a drawing/painting of eye larger than our bodies
    • It takes time and patience to produce the work, the work encloses a longer period of time and a bigger piece of memory
  • Subject matters
    • I think eye is a strong concept itself, when you are looking at the artwork, the eye is also looking at you
    • One other interesting subject could be my paintings, so that those works would be an extension of my painting work, the robot reproducing my work with its own expression
    • May also explore QR code
  • Why pixels
    • Inspired by Chuck Close
    • And a few artworks I saw in Abu Dhabi (I’ll figure out the names)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s