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Who could resist the fame and glory of a successful art career? Not the people of Katowice, Poland who created collaborative, machine-assisted works of art on the “Public Painting Machine” created by Niklas Roy.

Says Niklas:

People on the street could paint with the machine by pulling on ropes which were hanging outside. The machine bridged the gap between ordinary street life and the glamorous world of art. It launched hundreds of art careers and created skyrocketing fame, which culminated in cash revenue for the artists.

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The painting machine itself is a rope-actuated X-Y plotter:

The design of the machine was heavily inspired by computer controlled pen plotters – but at the end it works entirely mechanical, without electricity, so it operates purely on the artistic power of the people. The artists could control the machine by pulling ropes which were hanging outside in front of the window. Pulling the leftmost rope moved the canvas sideways (“X”), while the middle rope moved the paint brush up and down (“Y”), and the last one painted on the canvas (“Malovać”). Three little paint buckets and a jar of water were available for choosing a color and rinsing the brush. Color selection and dipping the brush into the paint buckets could all be done with the same ropes due to a sophisticated brush-flap-down-mechanism.

The construction on top of the gallery window supported pulleys over which the ropes traveled into the gallery. There they were connected to different mechanical parts of the machine. We used kitchen sponges as shock absorbers to ensure smooth operation over time. Quite a lowtech solution. Hitech were the ropes, made of Dyneema fibers which have an extraordinary low stretch, so they provided excellent tactile feedback. The whole mechanism was counter-weighted: Fitness weights were hanging on the ropes below the easel, and bright orange sandbags on the ropes outside.

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Instant Art Career at niklasroy.com

John Edgar Park

John Edgar Park likes to make things and tell people about it. He works in CG animation at DisneyToon Studios and writes for Make, Boing Boing, and other places online and in print. You can find him at jpixl.net and twitter @johnedgarpark — if you like that sort of thing.


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