Robot Art 2018 $100,000 To Win
Written by David Conrad   
Sunday, 29 April 2018

A competition called "Robot Art" begs the question can a robot create art? That is very much the point of the competition.


This is the third of a series of five annual competitions spanning 2016 to 2020, but for some reason we missed reporting on it last year. It was started by Andrew Conru as a way to merge two of his passions – technology and art with the idea that creativity and expression are emerging in unexpected ways from our relationship with technology. 

This year's competition has over 100 submissions and you can take a look at them and vote for your favorites. The public control 40% of the vote with professional judges controlling 60%. The winners will be announced on May 14th and the prizes are:

1st – $40,000
2nd – $25,000
3rd – $10,000
4th – $6,000
5th – $4,000
6th through 10th – $2,000 each

Anyone can enter, but obviously teams from schools are a prime target. It isn't just the artwork that needs to be presented; a short video showing how the work was created is also required.

This year things get even more arty because 20 to 30 paintings will be on sale at the Seattle art show in the summer and proceeds will go to the teams concerned.

There are three categories

1.Original Artwork

2.Re-interpreted Artwork

3. Pre-existing Artwork ( Pre-existing work is not eligible for prize money.)

At this point you might be thinking that this is an AI art contest - not so. Neural networks creating nightmare scenes or using style transfer are not the point of this competition. The idea is that the artwork has to be physical. You can use up to 8 manually mixed colors, but if want more the robot has to do the mixing. Paint has to be allied using physical brushes by a robot system - you can't use an ink-jet printer, say. If you are wondering why, the rational is:

"One of the first signs of human culture was our ability to express ourselves with images. From ancient cave paintings to abstract art, physically generated images have been a universal way for humans to express and communicate. Beyond simply replicating what is seen, artistically created paintings enable meaning in the way it’s created – what elements are left out, how color is used to heighten emotion, even the thickness or boldness of the application of paint has meaning.

The skills required to effectively paint are intrinsically human – graceful movement, sense of touch and pressure, ability to experience color and value."

I'm not going to tell you what I voted for and you will have to visit the site to see the array of entries of so many different types. My three favourites, and yes I'd hang them on my wall, are:


Fish Category: Re-interpreted artwork by PIX 18 Columbia University


Happy Elefant Category: Original artwork BABOT Massachussetts Institute of Technology


aether Category: Re-interpreted artwork A Roboto Data Science Lab


More Information

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Can Robots Create Art?

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Mathematical Art 2013

Van Gogh Meets Turing

A Robot With A Chainsaw!


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Last Updated ( Sunday, 29 April 2018 )