A humanoid artificially intelligent robot named Ai-Da is claimed to be the first robot capable of drawing people from life using her eye, and a pencil in her bionic hand. The designers say that using AI processes and algorithms, Ai-Da’s ability as a life-like robot to draw and paint from sight has never been achieved before, and will make Ai-Da an artist in her own right.
Ai-Da is the brainchild of art impresario and gallerist Aidan Meller, though he says the robot is named not after him, but after Ada Lovelace, the first female ‘computer programmer’. Ai-Da has been designed and built by Cornish robotics company Engineered Arts, which makes robots for communication and entertainment. In April 2018, Engineered Arts created an ultra-realistic robot to promote the Westworld TV show.
Professors and post-PhD students at Oxford University and Goldsmiths are providing Ai-Da with the programming and creative design for her art work, while students at Leeds University are custom designing and programming her ‘bionic’ drawing arm.
Ai-Da has a “RoboThespian” body, featuring an expressive range of movements, and has the ability to talk and respond to questions. Ai-Da has a “Mesmer” head, featuring realistic silicone skin, 3D Printed teeth & gums, integrated eye cameras, and as individually punched hair. In appearance Ai-Da will be mixed race, as illustrated in an artist’s rendering of Ai-Da’s face from 3D scans. Ai-Da has legs but cannot walk – she has the ability to stand upright or sit upright in a chair. Her arms move freely, as does her torso and head. She can also lean forward and back, wave her arms, and look around in all directions.
Ai-Da’s inaugural exhibition Unsecured Futures opens on May 9th, until May 31st at Lady Margaret Hall and St John’s College, University of Oxford. The exhibition will showcase Ai-Da’s performance art, as well as plastic, silver and bronze 2D and 3D works rendered through AI processes. Ai-Da will give a live performance at the opening, in homage to Yoko Ono’s ‘Cut Piece’ in reverse, where participating audience members will dress Ai-Da in fragments of material, to signify our close relationship between humanity and technology. In November 2019, Ai-Da will exhibit her original sketches in London.
Aidan Meller is a specialist in modern and contemporary art who runs a gallery from Oxford and London. He said: “Pioneering a new AI art movement, we are excited to present Ai-Da, the first professional humanoid artist, who creates her own art, as well as being a performance artist. As an AI robot, her artwork uses AI processes and algorithms. The work engages us to think about AI and technological uses and abuses in the world today.”