Saturday, February 27, 2016

A Flying Pantograph

Sang-won Leigh, Harshit Agrawal

We explore an art form where machines take essential role in aesthetics and processes of the creation. Our main theme can be summarized as “body, hybrid, and “evolve” - as we study an artistic medium that incorporates mechanical machines that institutes a hybrid creation process as well as an expressive capacity beyond body limits.

“Flying Pantograph” transposes human-scale drawing acts to a physically remote output canvas in different scales and aesthetics. A drone becomes an “expression agent” - modified to carry a pen and be controlled by human motions, then carries out the actual process of drawing on a vertical wall. Not only mechanically extending a human artist, the drone plays a crucial part of the expression as its own motion dynamics and software intelligence add new visual language to the art. This agency forms a strong link between a human artist and the canvas, however, in the same time, is a deliberate programmatic disconnect that offers space for exploiting machine aesthetics as a core expression medium.

The seemingly straightforward technical realization is in fact a combination of non-trivial mechanical and algorithmic solutions. The drone, a floating machine, is relying on a slim chance of stabilization acquired by battling the vortex of air, the pressure and friction on the canvas surface, and the capricious mind of the human artist. This suspense, the vulnerability to instability and the aftermath of crashing, poses a contrast with the optimistic idea of technologically evolved capability of a human artist.

At this critical point of balance, we embody an instance of evolution in form of an artistic medium. The interaction between people and our installation itself is one message, where the outcome drawing of the interaction offers another. This pushes forth the idea of collective and technological evolution across scale.


S. Leigh, H. Agrawal, and P. Maes. A Flying Pantograph: Interleaving Expressivity of Human and Machine, TEI 2016 Arts Exhibition, 2016 [PDF]
MIT Hubweek - A Flying Pantograph (prototype), Oct 8 2015






A drawing created by artist Sougwen Chung


Remote reach of an artist is enabled

Ghost Breaker - our drone hacking circuitry

Software (ver. 1 - previous version)

Exhibition at MIT Hubweek


about