sketching device #1

Sketching Device #1 is a moody art machine for which expression is more important than precision. Its bad temper turns simple instructions (back, left, down, right, repeat) into unpredictable swirls and snarls.

Based on research by Dan Reznik at the University of California, and inspired by a remark by Ed Stastny, Sketching Device #1 sends low-frequency vibrations through a sheet of paper to guide objects– such as pens– in any direction, without direct contact. The principle is similar to the way you scoot yourself around in a rolling office chair without touching the floor: jerk back quickly to make the chair move forward, and relax more slowly to get centered again without pulling the chair back. Sketching Device #1 does this about thirty times per second– too fast too see– and the pen in its plastic “boat” appears to float around the page by itself. In this primitive implementation, the process is not very reliable or predictable, and that is what makes the resulting sketches interesting.

sketching device and artbots in NY Times

Read about the first Artbots exhibit and Sketching Device #1 in the New York Times!

Most entries fell into the category that Mr. Galanter called ”punk-rock robotics,” emphasizing cheap components and a playful do-it-yourself approach.

Ranjit Bhatnagar said he had torn apart his stereo speakers to build Sketching Device No. 1, which used patterns of vibration to move pens across a sheet of paper. David Webber’s AO2000, which visitors picked as their favorite, made chaotic music with a blender, an adding machine, two laptop computers, an old television and some coffee cans, among other things. Symet Studio, by Stefan Prosky, a family of simple solar-powered robots that left trails of dots as they hopped around, was voted best of show by the robot-builders.