(Jeff_L) #1


Paul, a cybernetic entity, is the expression of
Tresset’s artistic practice. This robotic installation
utilizes some of the technology developed in the
context of the AIkon-II project.
Drawing is the human activity investigated in
the AIkonII project. The research uses computa-
tional and robotic technologies to explore drawing.
In particular the research focuses on observational
face sketching. The main goal is to shed some light
on the (mind) processes that may characterize the
emergence of style during a sketching creative act.
Our project follows three main research paths
based on: (i) the study of sketches in archives, notes
left by artists and specialists’ research; (ii) contem-
porary scientific and technological knowledge;
(iii) an artist’s insights (in the present case, Patrick
Tresset). Even if still partial, the knowledge of our
perceptual and other cognitive systems has pro-
gressed, and advances in computational hardware,
computer vision and artificial intelligence, now
permit the computational simulation of some per-
ceptual, and cognitive processes. It is thus nowadays
possible, with some imagination and insights, to
implement a coarse computational simulation of
the processes active when an artist is sketching faces
from life.
One important objective of our investigation is
to implement an embodied computational system
capable of simulating the various important pro-
cesses involved in face sketching. The ensemble of
processes to be simulated include: (i) the visual per-
ception of (a) the subject/sitter and (2) the sketch
itself, (ii) the drawing gestures, (iii) the cognitive

activity (including reasoning), (iv) the influence
of the years of training (or experience), (v) the
inter-processes information flow (or connectiv-
ity amongst processes). Note that due to our cur-
rent knowledge and technological limitations the
implementation of each process remains coarse and
approximate. However, the implemented system is
expected to draw in its own style.
Although Paul utilizes some of AIkon-II
research output, Paul is more craft than precise sci-
ence. Our goal for Paul is to have it draw interesting
sketches of the public. Nevertheless the drawings
produced are noteworthy of gallery exhibition qual-
ity. In the discussion we elaborate on why Paul may
produce aesthetically pleasing drawings.
When we are exhibiting installations where
Paul is a performer, we are exploring on one hand
the performative nature of drawing and on the
other the perception the audience has of the artis-
tic practice and the artist. We remain safely away
from the uncanny valley (MacDorman, 2005; Mori,
1970): Paul does not pretend to be human. It is only
an obsessive drawing entity. It has only one an eye
(camera) and an ordinary laptop serves as its brain.
The (crude robotic) arm’s limited freedom makes
it only able to imprint curvilinear traces or erase
these. Yet, Paul is displaying some form of attention
when focusing on a person and some form of inten-
tion as for tracing a line there is an implicit need for
intention. The presence of intention is even more
striking if the action slightly fails, such as when the
arm is attempting to draw a straight line but not
managing to do it perfectly.

Paul the Robot as a Naive Drawer

Patrick Tresset and
Frederic Fol Leymarie
Department of Computing
Goldsmiths, University of London, U.K.

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