Artist Sougwen Chung has teamed up with a peculiar collaborator for her latest project: a robot called D.O.U.G._1 (Drawing Operations Unit: Generation 1). This robotic arm, equipped with a pen, watches Chung using a ceiling-mounted camera and computer vision. As Chung draws, the arm attempts to mimic her movements, creating a rough mirror image of Chung’s illustration on the opposite side of the canvas.
Designed by developer Yotam Mann, D.O.U.G._1 doesn’t create perfect copies of Chung’s drawings. The robot-human collaborations have only a general symmetry, and D.O.U.G._1’s illustrations are distinct from Chung’s. Their movements, however, as robot and human artist draw together, have a near-hypnotic synchronicity.
According to Chung, “The project investigates ideas of automation, autonomy, and collaboration as an exercise in behavioral empathy.”
Chung believes that working with D.O.U.G._1 has made her a more empathetic artist. “It's easy to become obsessed with mastery, a bit too egocentric, even if much of the work I do is driven by free-form improvisation,” she told New Hive. “When I'm drawing with the robotic arm, I have to let go of that impulse. It's a more empathetic experience because I'm engaging in the process of slowing down, paying attention, and communicating entirely through gesture.”
Banner image credit: sougwen, Vimeo