Drawing Operations Unit: Generation 1 (aka "D.O.U.G._1")
Sougwen Chung is a Chinese artist that was born in Canada. A large portion of Chung’s work, which spans multiple artistic disciplines, illustrates the relationship between humans and technology. Chung’s art has been displayed all over the globe and has been featured in multiple magazines.
One of her most captivating works of art is known as Drawing Operations Unit: Generation 1, a performance installation featuring a drawing collaboration between a robot and human, incorporates bio art, interactive art, generative art as well as drawing. She created this installation with the help of developer, Yotam Mann, in 2015. In this piece, also referred to as D.O.U.G._1, a robotic arm is placed on top of a blank piece of black paper. This piece’s robotic arm is about the size of a human arm and bends downward near the middle. It has a clamp at the end of it that grasps a white colored pencil over the paper. Across from the robotic arm, an artist puts one hand over the piece of paper. The artist is also holding a white colored pencil. Then, the artist begins to draw, creating white lines on the paper. In response, the piece’s robotic arm mimics the artist’s drawing gestures and draws similar white lines. Their performance continues, as both the artist and the robotic arm proceed to draw, producing improvisational, abstract images. Its synchronous, drawing performance resembles some sort of elegant dance, captivating its viewers with its mesmerizing, intertwined movements.
Upon first hearing about this piece, viewers may assume that it would feature more robotic, automated movements. Members of D.O.U.G._1‘s audience most likely could not have foreseen the beauty that this work of art encompasses. Although D.O.U.G_1 mimics the participant’s movements, the robotic arm and the drawing hand seem to naturally feed off one another and work together as they produce collaborative drawings. Despite featuring a robotic arm, the movement displayed in this piece is surprisingly captivating as well as artistic. It can initially be surprising to witness such fluid, human-like movements produced by a robot. However, as one continues to watch the piece’s synchronous, drawing performance, the initial shock is replaced by the admiration of it’s unique beauty.
Chung used this art piece to explore the relationship between technology and humans, primarily regarding what working with a non-human collaborator is like. This piece is just the first stage on an ongoing study regarding artistic interaction between robots and humans. D.O.U.G._1 demonstrates mimicry, using a ceiling mounted camera and computer vision, which allows the robotic arm to mimic the human hand’s drawing motions. It is hoped that in the future, D.O.U.G._2 will incorporate memory and D.O.U.G._3 will eventually incorporate autonomy. Gadgette journalist, Emma Boyle, discusses this further in her article regarding how:
When D.O.U.G._1‘s robotic arm mimics the movements of the artist’s hand, it appears to have adopted human behavior. Perhaps Chung wanted to give the impression that D.O.U.G._1‘s robotic arm was adopting human-like behavior, primarily creativity as well as the ability to mimic movement, in order to make it simpler to work with it in terms of artistic collaboration. The way she managed to get the robotic arm to collaborate with a human participant in this piece also suggests that humans and technology may one day be able to get past their conflicts and connect with one another. Also Chung wanted D.O.U.G._1 to aid in alleviating egocentric thoughts of some viewers by providing a more empathetic experience using its abstract, yet beautiful artistic collaboration between humans and technology. By slowing down viewer’s self-centered thoughts via exposing them to the piece’s beautiful, improvisational movements, they are better able to admire this piece as a true work of art and reflect more on the thoughts, feelings, and intentions that went into D.O.U.G._1.
Benjamin Grosser’s generative art piece, Interactive Robotic Painting Machine, is an interactive machine, featuring a robotic arm, that is mounted onto a wooden frame slightly above a canvas, and sound-detecting equipment. The Interactive Robotic Painting Machine’s robotic arm paints in response to audio input it detects around it. If there is no audio input being received from it’s environment, the piece begins listening to itself and the sounds it produces. In this piece, Benjamin Grosser attempts to explore the differences between humans and technology as well as touch upon the concepts of consciousness and creativity. The Interactive Robotic Painting Machine, also, demonstrates the common human tendency to alter their behavior when in the presence of others, perhaps in an attempt to get its audience to reflect on their own behavior. Like D.O.U.G._1, this piece is interactive, utilizes robotics, has a strong focus on creativity, and examines the relationship between humans and technology. However, the Interactive Robotic Painting Machine reacts to audio input from various sources, while D.O.U.G._1 reacts to visual input received from the individual interacting (aka drawing) with it. Also, D.O.U.G._1 appears to provide a more intimate, personal experience than the Interactive Robotic Painting Machine, because it interacts with only individual at a time in a smaller environment.
Aramique’s generative art piece, Heart Bot, is a drawing machine controlled by the heart rate of its viewers, that utilizes robotics, heart sensors, and human heartbeats. Heart Bot’s two robotic arms wielding pens are mounted on a wall above a floor-to-ceiling canvas while its heart sensor, which is where viewers place their hands in order to influence the drawing process of the piece, is located a few feet in front of the wall. The resulting drawings created by this piece compile on the canvas as more viewers interact with it, creating a more abstract work of art as time goes on. In Heart Bot, Aramique intends to examine the collaborative relationship between humans and technology in an artistic environment. This piece also helps remind its viewers that they are all unique in their own individual way, for they all have different, physiological responses to Heart Bot’s environment. Both D.O.U.G._1 and Heart Bot are generative art pieces that feature robotic arms, are interactive, and explore the creative relationship between humans and technology. But Heart Bot uses the human heart rates of numerous viewers as its input while D.O.U.G._1 uses the visual movements of one individual as its interactive input. Heart Bot seems to be trying to communicate a more communal message than D.O.U.G._1, which seems more concentrated on a single individual.
Chung’s performance installation, D.O.U.G._1, features an artistic collaboration between a human and an interactive robotic arm. The piece’s main focus is to explore to what capacity humans can collaborate artistically with robots. In addition to examining the collaborative relationship between humans and robots, D.O.U.G._1 also aids its viewers in alleviating their egocentric thoughts by presenting them with a natural, artistic collaboration that creates obscurly beautiful drawings. By providing an alleviating experience while also exploring the boundaries to which humans and robots can collaborate artistically, D.O.U.G._1 beautifully encompasses the spirit of generative art.
Images and Video of “Drawing Operations Unit: Generation 1”:
- “D.O.U.G._1 Performance” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nUGWJimKo2w (Video)
- “Drawing Operations Unit: Generation 1” GIF https://media.giphy.com/media/3oEduFbYIkiJkCQDVm/giphy.gif (Video/GIF)
- “NEW INC Showcase 2015 Presents: D.O.U.G” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O_X0G46zGQ4 (Video)
- “Sougwen Chung, Drawing Operations (Collaboration),2015” https://vimeo.com/138487938 (Video)
- "Heart bot" https://vimeo.com/104567379 (Video)
- "Interactive Robotic Painting Machine" https://vimeo.com/23998286 (Video)
- “Drawing Operations Unit: Generation 1” Stills http://sougwen.com/Drawing-Operations-D-O-U-G (Images, Videos)
- “Drawing Operations Unit: Generation_1 (D.O.U.G)” http://artfcity.com/2015/07/22/at-new-inc-demo-day-2015-a-cheery-future-for-art-and-tech/ (Image)
- “#drawingwithdoug” Stills of "D.O.U.G._1" https://www.instagram.com/explore/tags/drawingwithdoug/ (Images)
Shows/Exhibitions/Galleries That Have Shown “Drawing Operations Unit: Generation 1”:
- Japan Media Arts Festival Showcase (2016; Tokyo, Japan)
- NEW INC Showcase (2015; Redbull Studios, NY, USA)
- Skyroom Performance (2016; New Museum; NY, USA)
- Ubiquitous Humanity (2016; The Annex; Hong kong, Japan)
Sources and Resources:
- "Drawing Operations: A Human/Robot Drawing Collaboration." NewHive Blog. N.p., 2016. Web. 25 Apr. 2017. https://newhive.com/sougwen/sougwen-chung-drawing-operations-unit-generation-1-2016.
- "Excellence Award: Drawing Operations Unit: Generation 1." Japan Media Arts Festival Archive. The Agency for Cultural Affairs, 2015. Web. 25 Apr. 2017. http://archive.j-mediaarts.jp/en/festival/2015/entertainment/works/19e_drawing_operations_unit_generation_1/.
- "Sougwen Chung." The Ghostly Store. Ghostly International, n.d. Web. 25 Apr. 2017. https://www.theghostlystore.com/collections/sougwen-chung.
- "Sougwen Chung Info." Sougwen. Cargo, 2015. Web. 25 Apr. 2017. http://sougwen.com/.
- Boyle, Emma. "This Artist Is Using a Robotic Arm to Show How Humans and AI Can Work Together." Gadgette. Guru; GoSquared, 29 Mar. 2016. Web. 25 Apr. 2017. http://www.gadgette.com/2016/03/29/this-artist-is-using-a-robotic-arm-to-show-how-humans-and-ai-can-work-together/.
- Chung, Sougwen. "Drawing Operations (D.O.U.G.)." Sougwen. NEW INC/New Museum; Redbull Studios; New Hive; Cargo, 2015. Web. 25 Apr. 2017. http://sougwen.com/Drawing-Operations-D-O-U-G.
- Chung, Sougwen. "Sougwen Chung, Drawing Operations (Collaboration), 2015." Vimeo. Vimeo, Inc., 2015. Web. 25 Apr. 2017. https://vimeo.com/138487938.
- DoubleU. "Sougwen Chung: Drawing Operations (Collaboration) 2015." Digital Canvas. Digital Canvas, 22 Mar. 2016. Web. 25 Apr. 2017. http://digitalcanvas.co/2016/03/22/sougwen-chung-drawing-operations-collaboration-2015/.
- Grosser, Benjamin. "Interactive Robotic Painting Machine." BenjaminGROSSER. N.p., n.d. Web. 05 June 2017. http://bengrosser.com/projects/interactive-robotic-painting-machine/.
- Pangburn, DJ. "This Robot Draws Pictures to the Beat of Your Heart." Motherboard. VICE, 29 Aug. 2014. Web. 05 June 2017. https://motherboard.vice.com/en_us/article/this-drawing-machine-is-powered-by-heart-beats.
- Saini, Shivam. "This Robotic Arm Draws Almost as Well as a Human Artist - Because It Sort of Is One." Business Insider. REV Asia, 30 July 2015. Web. 25 Apr. 2017. http://www.businessinsider.sg/robotic-arm-draws-by-mimicking-an-artists-movements-2015-7/#lSpAlm6zaubdCRy2.97.