2017 Winners

2017 Robot Art Competition Winners Announced!

We were happy by the record number of teams who submitted beautiful robot-created artwork for the second year of this 5-year world-wide competition.  In total, there were 38 teams from 10 countries who submitted 200 different artworks!  With more teams and artworks, it was even more of a challenge to determine the best teams.

Winners were determined based on a combination of public voting (over 3000 people with a Facebook account), judges consisting of working artists, critics, and technologists, and by how well the team met the spirit of the competition – that is, to create something beautiful using a physical brush and robotics and to share what they learned with others.  Learn more about the goals of the contest and its rules here.

Read more about robot art (useful for journalists/press).

Note: We encourage teams to hang on to their artwork as we will have a physical exhibition of robotic-created artwork following next year’s competition (i.e., Summer 2018).  This exhibition, most likely in Seattle, WA, will showcase winners of the 2017 and 2018 competition.  The goal is to test Andy Warhol’s theory that  “You know it’s ART, when the check clears.”

… and now, for the team winners of the 2017 Robot Art Competition…

1st Place – $40,000 – PIX18 / Creative Machines Lab – Columbia University (USA)

This project from Columbia shows a high level of skill with brushstrokes. This, along with some deep learning algorithms, produces some lovely paintings from sources or scratch.   When they used a photograph as source they were able to create plenty of variation from the original and using a fluid medium to produce an atmospheric and open-ended visual experience.  Much of their work had a painterly and contemporary presentation.

Composition and brush strokes evocative of Van Gogh.  Interesting palette. Felt  a bit like a texture or pattern making — so less emotional.

2nd Place – $25,000 – CMIT ReART, Kasetsart University (Thailand)

Artists program this robot brushstroke by stroke, using a haptic recording system that generates volumes of data about the position of the brush and the forces being exerted. When re-played, reART will generate a perfect reproduction of the original strokes.  Haptic recording and playback allows for remarkably high-quality inkbrush drawings

One of the aspects of a success commercial artist is to know their market.  In this case, the students chose to paint the popular and recently deceased Thai King and therefore were able to get many students to vote for their team.

3rd Place – $10,000 – CloudPainter – Gonzaga (USA)

Incorporating machine-learning technology, including Style Transfer with Google’s TensorFlow algorithms, enabled CloudPainter to paint evocative portraits with varying degrees of abstraction. The source code and 3d models for CloudPainter are available online, and its creator has written about and given talks on his philosophy and methodology.

All of this teams offerings are  important. They are aiming at an interpretation of the optical properties of oil paint, and applying them to deep learning. Spontaneous paint, “mosaicing” of adjacent tones, layering effects and the graphical interplay between paint strokes of varying textures, are all hand/eye, deeply neurally sophisticated aspects of oil painting that this team is trying to evince together with a robot.

This team also won the $5,000 prize for technical contribution.

4th Place $6000 – e-David – University of Konstanz (Germany)

Using software that enables a collaboration between a human artist and roboticist, e-David mimics closely the approach a human painter would work on the canvas. An accompanying academic paper goes into deep detail about their approach to the project.

5th Place $4000 – JACKbDU – New York University Shanghai (China)

 Clean lines, interesting abstractions, both familiar and abstract subjects made me appreciate the overall body.  In particularly, purely from aesthetics, these were found to be most compelling.

6th Place $2000 – HEARTalion – Halmstad University (Sweden)

If this body of work was exhibited at a gallery and I was told that the artist aimed to capture emotion through color, composition, and textures — I would buy (says one of our professional judges).   The bold brush strokes, cool or warm templates to match the emotional quality expressed, all made sense — but felt alive.  Loved them.

7th Place $2000 – Late Night Projects – Independent

Loved the composition of both of these pieces.  Both pieces bring an emotive calm with just a few colors, technique, and simplicity.  Gem-style optical sketch, intimate scale, good formal balance, medium application and value panels.

8th Place $2000 – Wentworth Institute of Technology (USA)

This project uses the precision of a robot to take crude brush dabs to astonishing levels. By incorporating 3d scans into it’s image generation, this bot operates with a more complete understanding of its subject; much like a human painter would have of someone sitting for them. The team was kind enough to publish their 3d models and source code, so others can learn from and build off of their work.

9th Place $2000 – CARP -Worcester Polytechnic Institute (USA)

Very good line. Lots of space in this drawing, and central form is simultaneously dense and traversable.  Good architectural reference in clear tooling, but enlivened by sumo type or Franz Kline strokes. If the shapes can be continue to be explored while maintaining the hand/machine balance, this will remain a strong venue.

Slightly synesthetic. Beautiful and balanced fusion of technical and handmade, crystalline and organic.

10th Place $2000 – BABOT – Massachusetts Institute of Technology (USA)

Special recognition prizes $1000/each

Chicago Engineering Design Team – University of Illinois at Chicago (USA)

JacksonBot – University of Heidelberg (Germany)

Christian H. Seidler – The Jeffersonian Institute (USA)

Anguis – Oregon State University (USA)

Manibus Team – Ballet Des Moines (USA)

Special thanks to our judges:

Stacy Nagata, Peter MalarkeyJonathan Zornow

Overview of the competition

 An international competition for all ages, the 2nd Annual Robot Art competition’s goal is to challenge teams to produce something visually beautiful with robotics—that is, to have a robot use physical brushes and paint to create an artwork. It’s ideal for students or professionals involved in robotic planning and image processing, especially those who have an appreciation for art. 

There is no cost to enter and any robotic system can be used to produce the artwork. While most teams are using existing robotic arms, the contest is open to custom hardware. Teams can enter up to 6 paintings in each of the competition categories of “original artwork” and “reinterpreted artwork” where a reference image or existing artwork is used as a reference.   
Read more about robotic art and the philosophy behind the competition.