The artistic duo Varvara & Mar, whose artistic research practice is based on connections, interdependencies and frictions between social change and technological progress, has developed projects in the field of robotics as part of this year's international residency program at DDTlab. Last month, the artists presented themselves at the Speculum Artium 2021 festival of new media art with two projects developed in collaboration with the DDTlab team:
• Advanced drawing with the robotic hand Yaski is a robotic art installation entitled Drawing Automata. Yaski is commonly used in industry to perform routine work. With this project, the artists want to free Yaski's robotic arm and add artistic value to its work. This means that Yaski is performing the work of an artist, i.e. sketching portraits. The installation turns a photo of the person being portrayed, created with a webcam, into a drawing drawn by Yaski. The installation uses the Python Linedraw Library so that the photo can be transformed into a sketch. Although all the processes in the Drawing Automata project are algorithmic, the final sketch of the person portrayed is drawn as if it were created by a human hand.
• I, Human and Eve is a computer-art installation that involves the interaction between the audience, the Yaski robotic arm, and the NAO robot Eve, as well as the principles of artificial intelligence (AI). The end result is the production of a comic strip. During the participant's conversation with Eve and creating photos with her, Yaski draws a comic strip on paper. The challenge of the project is the final product, which is designed in a comic book format while simultaneously managing two robots; Eve as an interlocutor and Yaski as a story writer. In the interaction between the participant and Eve, the participant first writes a text to start a conversation with the robot. The participant can then create visual images for their comic strip and also hear robot Eve's response to their written text; lastly, a photo is created. When the humorous comic is finally created, Yaski begins to create a story: he first draws boxes containing text, and finally adds a sketch. The following participant can continue the story or create a new one.