Here's a 3 min video that explains the project in a more exciting way.

This was a group project in CMU's 16-455 Human Machine Virtuosity IDEATE class.

Abstract

Our project aimed to discover and analyze the gestural aesthetic of graffiti and its translation into a robotic and technical system. Our goal was to augment and extend, but not replace, the craft of graffiti using a robotic system. With the capabilities of the robot, we explored and found artistic spaces that were beyond the reach of human interaction but still carried heavy influences from the original artist. We were able to modify the artist’s aesthetic and tag to create a new art piece that was developed programmed through Grasshopper.

Objective

Our goals were to be able to utilize the robot's capabilities to create something that an artist would not be able to make. We were able to take advantage of the reach and scale of the robot, specifically the track on which it could slide up and down. By programming transformations, each letter was able to be perfectly replicated multiple times but in positions that would have been impossible for the artist do complete.

Implementation

Ultimately, we ended up sticking with simple modifications for the sake of time and producing a successful end piece for the show. We were able to take each letter and apply a transformation to it via Grasshopper. A large part of getting to this process was physically making the hardware work (the spray tool and canvases) as well as the programming in Python. If taken further, we would ideally like to create more intricate and complex transformations give the amount of area and space that we have with the robot.

Process

The programming side was a bit more complicated and we were able to successfully program the robot to spray the desired outcomes. Some of our challenges included the robot arm being constrained in specific angles and distances, but we were able to remedy most of that by turning the plane 90 degrees, and using the wall that runs the length of the track. We were unable to test all the initial transformations that we had managed to program due to time but those would be included in any future considerations.

Outcomes

We were able to successfully make the robot spray an artist's tag to pretty much 100% accuracy. At the final show, one of the graffiti artists commented that it looked exactly like what he would do and wasn't sure if he would recognize this tag as being sprayed by the robot. The hardware was something we nailed down in the first half of the semester, with some fine tuning along the way (nozzle type, distance from canvas, etc.).