Ai-Da the robot artist’s first exhibition has us asking: What even is art?

Are her drawings the art? Or is she the art? Or is it all art? Much to think about

What do the artists Andy Warhol, Tracy Emin, John Constable and J. M. W. Turner have in common aside from world renown and enviable success?

It’s a question that bothered Aidan Meller as he decided to turn his own hand to the process of creating art. Meller is director of his own gallery in Oxford, England, and the man behind a new robot-centered exhibition scheduled to open next week in the university city.

“Without exception … every single one of them was hitting the zeitgeist of their time,” he said. Meller could see that in 2019, heading into the next decade, the one thing that would underpin almost every innovation and exciting development in the world was AI. With this in mind he decided to create a robot that could bring art forth into the world while facilitating a conversation about the potential of AI.

And so Ai-Da the art-producing robot was born (named after Victorian computing visionary Ada Lovelace).

Ai-Da has a humanoid head and neck, including a full head of long hair. The mechanics of her torso and limbs, meanwhile, are openly exposed (if sometimes partially clothed) — all the way down to her fingers, which are capable of grasping a drawing implement. Using cameras in her eyes, she can identify what’s in front of her and commit it to paper by hand, in her own unique staccato, impressionistic style.

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