Through a practice that spans drawing, painting, performance, and poetry, the artist Ai-Da Robot, a bespoke android with the ability to create art, expands what creativity means in the AI-dominated era, and questions what it means to be an artist today.
Ai-Da Robot was created in 2019 and built by Engineered Arts, the Oxford-based specialists in developing humanoid and semi-humanoid robots. She uses AI algorithms that reflect pioneering techniques in AI art created by PhD students from the Machine Learning Department at the University of Oxford to create her art.
Ai-Da is named after the English mathematician and writer, Augusta Ada King, Countess of Lovelace, the only legitimate child of Lord Byron, and is today more widely known as Ada Lovelace (1815-1852). Lovelace is celebrated for her work on Charles Babbage’s proposed mechanical general-purpose computer, the Analytical Engine. In doing so, she recognised that machines had applications beyond pure calculation, as well as publishing the first algorithm intended to be carried out by such a machine. Lovelace is therefore widely regarded as being the first person to recognise the full potential of computers and one of the pioneers of computer programming.
Ai-Da creates her art by capturing images using the camera in her eye, which are then processed by her AI algorithms to become real space coordinates, which she then turns into drawings using her robotic arm. Like other artists, from Rembrandt and his workshops during the Dutch Golden Age to Damien Hirst and his dot paintings, she collaborates with others to produce her paintings and sculptures. Indeed, Ai-Da’s art can be seen as the product of broad collaborations across various specialisations, for example, between artists, scientists, designers, machines and computers. As such, her practice is the embodiment of the networked, technological, physical and virtual worlds inhabited by today’s creative artists.
Since Ai-Da Robot’s launch in 2019, she has shown at ANNKA KULTYS GALLERY, London, UK (2021); The Design Museum, London, UK (2021); KÖNIG GALERIE, Berlin, Germany (curated by Anika Meier and Johann König) (2021); ANNKA KULTYS GALLERY, London, UK (2020); Barbican Gallery, London, UK (2019); Tate Exchange, London, UK (2019); Ars Electronica, Dubai and Abu Dhabi, UAE (2019); and The University of Oxford, Oxford, UK (2019).