Life does not always work out the way we plan just ask Patrick Tresset. You think you want something and when you are immersed in it, you find that your interest lost. In his life, art and science have never been apart.
The French artist started tinkering with computers from a young age. When the time came for college, he decided to focus on business computing. This passion thrived until it he got out of college. Interest lost in the sciences, he went back to the arts.
The painting arts welcomed him with open hands and he revelled in it for a time. After a decade or so of painting, he lost interest in the field. This may have been catalyzed by his mental problems that disabled full functionality in the society. The good news is that he sought help from specialists who helped to get on the right track.
He did get help but he was done using his hands to paint. It was then that in 1999 he came up with the concept of robots that could draw. His first trials did not produce a portrait, it was all doodles. This first research helped him identify that he was unequipped to produce visible art and thus he sought some education.
With a masters from the Goldsmiths College for computing, he was able to have more insight into his idea. He was able to look into computer vision and perception. His final thesis was on a software that could let computers draw outlines of a person’s face.
For a first step, this was brilliant but it hadn’t reached the level of quality that we wanted. Thus, he moved to the next step in his big plan. A doctoral conquest was next in search of more information to make the project even greater. In 2009, they got a grant 3-year from the Leverhulme Trust.
At first, robotics were not included in the research, but then they realized that it was unavoidable. This is because drawing usually features different gestures to compose a visible portrait. The discovery that they needed robotics made the whole process of software integration easier.
By the year 2010, Patrick Tresset had a robotic model for display. It worked well, but for a perfectionist, he had to tweak it. By 2011 he had produced the first robotic drawing that met his standard. It was at the right time too since the model got so much international attention that museums wanted to exhibit his installations. Success at last.
All his machines have the name, Paul. There are various models that distinction is required. You will find the models with a suffix of a roman number or letters of the alphabet. These models have a camera recording the facial structure of the face in question. These images are processed to command the robotic arm to draw what it sees.
These robotic arms are bolted to different school desks (command centres) to produce different effects. There are plans to develop these robots further to a point where each robot has its own distinct style.
Consider Mr. Patrick a teacher of artistic robots. In his recent work, he has been able to create robotic models that can learn and take instruction. What is interesting is that some of these models portray human traits. Some are slow and some are fast. Some have a hint of shyness thanks to Patrick Tresset’s genius.
In humanizing these robots you are able to marvel at what science and art can produce when intermingled. In the future, there are plans to see how far they can take up this project with the new advancements in technology.
In his studio located in London, you will find portraits of many who have come to get their portraits taken by these robots. People are fascinated with the thought of a robot being an artist with an identity. In the future, we predict human-like robots with a sophisticated mindset.
Museums such as the Museum of Israel, Seoul’s Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, London’s Victoria& Albert Museum, the Prada Foundation, and BOZAR are some of the places that his work has graced.
Already he marvels at his work saying “I am always surprised, I am never sure what they’re going to do,” Every portrait made is different from the other even though it is on the same subject. There is no telling where this project will be in five years. All we understand is that it will be beyond marvellous!