If you imbued hacker technology with the artistic impulses of a crayon-wielding toddler, you’d get something like Harvey Moon’s “Drawing Machine”: a robotic contraption that transforms scanned photographs into odd, doodly wall art.
Moon spent the last four years perfecting the Drawing Machine, using the Processing programming language to algorithmically morph pixel images into glitchy visual transcriptions that often include unpredictable and unique features. Here’s the Drawing Machine’s take on Honest Abe:
And here’s a detail of the above image, showing the Drawing Machine’s weird, scrawly style:
Moon’s machine isn’t the first to use DIY code and robotics to generate analog art, but it is the first one to actually, well, work. At least, that’s what his Kickstarter project page claims — and he’s seeking funds to make Drawing Machine 2.0, which will include a more precise, horizontally-oriented drawing mechanism designed to function more like a human arm. And he’ll release the mechanical plans and source code so any similarly inclined techno-artist can build one him- or herself.
The original Drawing Machine is no mere prototype, though: between its idiosyncratic “style” and
the fact that it can take weeks or months to complete a drawing, the machine itself becomes a kind of interactive, kinetic art. Depending on what images you feed it, the results can be classically beautiful or nightmarishly strange:
Moon has already surpassed his modest funding goal on Kickstarter, so the next version of Drawing Machine should be scrawling out new images any day now. In the meantime, maybe you can cajole Moon into generating a limited edition print from the vintage version before it becomes obsolete.