Robots with Robohood technology allow everyone to paint. Are we facing a devaluation of art?

Robots with Robohood technology allow everyone to paint. Are we facing a devaluation of art?

“Everyone can paint now!” Will this bring about a perfect world or a future disaster for the art industry, leaving it in ruins?

My name is Vladimir Tsimberg, and I am the founder of Robohood Inc. We developed a unique technology that allows robotic manipulators to paint with brushes and oil and acrylic on various surfaces. Our goal is to democratize painting as much as possible because robots are an additional tool for people who want to realize their creative potential. Where will this lead? Will it really lead to democratization, or will it result in the devaluation of art?

Writer William Burroughs once said that art can be equated with magic since it “was originally used for ritual to produce very specific effects.” The main purpose of art was to satisfy spiritual needs.

Throughout history, art has been considered a luxury. In different eras, only privileged classes of society — the church and the aristocracy — could possess it. Art had to praise their greatness. The entire artistic world was organized according to their rules, where artists painted only allowed things. A few also became sought-after artists, if they were lucky enough to have a workshop from which they graduated or a patron. Otherwise, it was harder for them to compete on the same stage with their colleagues.

The market was artificially limited. Such rules created an atmosphere of unattainability around painting. Anything difficult to obtain becomes highly desirable. Everything that is highly desirable is highly valued.

However, the approach to creating and owning art has transformed over the centuries. The Industrial Revolution changed the rules of the game, allowing for the democratization of art. Artists felt freer, and a new audience of art buyers emerged. More painters and their works appeared, so everyone was trying to stand out. It was no longer enough to simply paint an image; you had to come up with something that people had never seen before. Collages, soup cans, embedding philosophy in objects — the source of ideas seemed inexhaustible. A new movement could begin with an artist and end with his death. Everyone invented their own style, genre, and direction. Now only the artist decides what is art.

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This is the most important turning point in the art world. There is too much of it now. Painting becomes more commercialized and loses its sacred component, and the speed at which the market has developed and changed has led the public to ask: what’s next? Have we lost art?

Now there are robots with unique Robohood technology that will help everyone become an artist. The market will be flooded with paintings!

The fears of critics of technology in painting are justified. Thanks to the Internet and social media, we can see the abundance of artistic is produced today, and the supply far exceeds the demand. From their point of view, the essence, i.e., the whole philosophical concept of art that has been formed over several centuries, seems to be lost in this diversity. In this sense, devaluation is the loss of interest in all art, because the divine phenomenon of closeness is no longer visible in it.

As I mentioned earlier, all closeness is artificially created. Humans have been creating since before the dawn of writing. Everyone is an artist at heart, and now we have the tools to set the inner artist free to create.

In the past, artists had to graduate from academies and spend many years honing their skills, but now they can go from an idea to a finished photorealistic painting with deep meaning in just a few hours. You just have to formulate the request correctly. I think this fact is even more troubling to the community because it could lead to a devaluation of art. The work of artists, it seems, will cost nothing.

Here it’s still worth distinguishing between art as an applied process and a way of earning money, and the ordinary, innate need to create. Many adults want to paint but don’t have skills. This desire can come suddenly. Office workers who rush home to their families after work may not have time to take a painting class. They, as well as patients with disabilities and many other groups of people, can realize their artistic impulses through technology.

Robots allow them to realize their artistic ideas without special experience. More and more artists appear among ordinary people who previously kept their talent under seven seals because they couldn’t transfer their thoughts to canvas. They create many paintings with the help of technological tools. Neural networks help them digitize their thoughts and turn them into images, and robots paint the canvas. Today, we have more tools for creativity than we did 50 years ago; it is easier to find what will help us express ourselves. The tools are much more accessible and sophisticated.

Let’s take a quick trip back to the Renaissance. In the 17th century, there was an unprecedented interest in painting in the Netherlands, especially in the northern part of the country. As the northerners separated into their own region, their standard of living increased. Art became so widespread that every home had at least one painting on the wall. A phenomenal number of artists emerged during this period. They did not paint on commission but sold already completed paintings.

Almost the entire population lived in cities and consisted of burghers, craftsmen, and peasants. To satisfy their desire to own art, masters created cheap and small canvases that city dwellers could hang in their modest homes. As one contemporary recalled, “There was no poor city dweller who did not wish to own paintings, even if it meant saving money on food.”

These artists became known as the Lesser Dutchmen — because of the size of their compositions (often no larger than 40×30 cm) and the genres they painted. These were small portraits, still life, and landscapes. Of course, they faced snobbery from others. The genres in which they worked were considered “low” because domestic paintings paled in size and grandeur compared to biblical scenes. They were intended for a mass audience.

Artists worked in small niches because the competition was fierce. Estimates suggested that there was one artist for every thousand people in the country. Nevertheless, artists often copied the same subjects, but this didn’t matter much to both sides because the paintings were intended to decorate homes, not museums where they would hang side by side.

The frenzy of interest and access to painting did not harm either the artists or the art! In just twenty years, artists in the Netherlands produced and sold some 1.3 million paintings. The activities of the Lesser Dutchmen produced great masters, such as Pieter de Hooch, Jan Vermeer, Pieter Claesz, and others. We can see that the large number of works of art that came from the brushes of the Lesser Dutchmen had only a positive effect on the sphere.

Nowadays, technology provides us with more opportunities for self-realization. The same we could see in literature and cinema. Amateur movies and self-publishing authors find it easier to formalize their works into finished forms. They find their viewers, their audiences, who may not need anything chosen, divine, or sacred. Diamonds can also be found among amateur artists who have entered the art world through technology. We cannot deny the existence of a whole layer of people who engage in creativity solely for self-expression. Robots can help them.

The art market will simply expand, becoming mass rather than elite. Among artists such as Vermeer, Velázquez, Bruegel, Dali, Murakami, Hockney, Cattelan, and Banksy, and then new, completely unexpected names — this means that art, on the contrary, becomes richer because these are different perspectives on creativity. It doesn’t wither with massiveness; it doesn’t become less valuable — it becomes more accessible. That is why we can say that technology is primarily the driving force of art.

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