Ai-Da, the world’s first ultra-realistic robot artist in conversation with Tim Marlow this week.

Ai-Da Robot with Painting_(Photographer Nicky Johnston)
Ai-Da Robot with Painting Photographer Nicky Johnston

Sarabande Foundation have announced an in-conversation with Ai-Da, the world’s first ultra-realistic robot artist and Tim Marlow, the Artistic Director of the Royal Academy for Sarabande’s last talk of the year in their acclaimed Inspiration Series.

Ai-Da is the world’s first ultra-realistic humanoid AI robot artist capable of drawing people from life using cameras in her eyes, and a pencil in her left robotic hand. She creates artwork based on Professor Margaret Boden’s philosophical definition of creativity – that it must be novel, surprising and of societal value.

Ai-Da was invented to engage discussion around the ethics of new technologies, and what these new technologies mean for creativity. She sites Picasso’s Guernica and Orwell’s 1984 as key inspirations for her artistic practice and draws subjects from sight. Each one is completely unique and unreproducible. In an ‘in-conversation’ unlike any other, Tim will question Ai-Da on her taste, inspirations and purpose as an artist, and seek to find how she expects tech to impact the creative industries.

Ai-Da is named after Ada Lovelace, the first female computer programmer in the world, she was invented by gallery director Aidan Meller and built by robotics company Engineered Arts; with A.I. programming from PhD students at Oxford University. Since her launch in February, she has already achieved a sell-out inaugural exhibition at Oxford University in June, followed by an international tour including Ars Electronica, Harper’s Bazaar Capsule, and the international art fair Abu Dhabi Art. Furthermore, she has participated in the Wired Pulse: AI event at the Barbican and partnered with the Tate Exchange for a four-day workshop at the Tate Modern in collaboration with the copper artist Sadie Clayton.

Event Information
Ai-Da Draws: Wed, 11 December 2019 14:00 – 17:30 GMT
Art Talk with Tim Marlow: Wed, 11 December 2019 19:30 – 21:00 GMT
Buy tickets here: eventbrite.co.uk/e/inspiration-series-ai-da-

About The Artist
Ai-Da is the world’s first ultra-realistic robot artist, and is the vision of gallery director Aidan Meller. Her first exhibition, ‘Unsecured Futures’ was displayed at the University of Oxford, in June/July 2019.
Currently, her medium is pencil and pen, and she creates sketches in a human style. She uses facial recognition technology to draw human faces. In addition to her drawing techniques, she is also a performance artist, taking part in art performances and art videos. She reads aloud using her own personal voice. As a humanoid robot, she is an art object in herself, raising questions surrounding biotechnology and transhumanism.
Ai-Da’s robotic hand and ability to draw have been developed by AI engineers at Leeds University. Ai-Da’s drawing arm system has multiple stages and contains numerous AI algorithms; starting with analysing the person in-front of Ai-Da and moving on to create a virtual path for Ai-Da’s arm. Once this virtual path has been created, it is fed into a path execution algorithm that gives real-space coordinates, enabling her arm to produce the actual sketches.
Ai-Da was manufactured by Engineered Arts in Cornwall, and was completed in February 2019. Ai-Da has a “RoboThespian” body, featuring an expressive range of movements and she has the ability to talk. Ai-Da has a “Mesmer” head, featuring realistic silicone skin, 3D Printed teeth & gums, integrated eye cameras, as well as individually punched hair. Ai-Da has legs but she cannot walk, she has the ability to stand upright or sit upright in a chair. Her arms move freely, as does her torso and head. She can also lean forward and back, wave her arms, and look around in all directions.

About Sarabande Foundation
Sarabande is a charitable trust that was established by legendary British designer Lee Alexander McQueen to identify and support the UK’s best creative talent through scholarships, subsidised studio space, a public events programme and industry mentoring.

The support offered by Sarabande is not limited by art form, medium or discipline but centres around our founding principles of uniqueness of vision, craft, quality, creativity and passion. Since 2012 Sarabande has awarded 30 scholarships with current scholars studying art, design, and fashion at BA and MA and supported 52 through the studio residency programme. Scholars have been chosen by industry professionals including Andrew Bolton, Sarah Burton OBE, Sadie Coles, Dinos Chapman, Giles Deacon, Katy England, Craig Green, Nick Knight OBE, and Matthew Slotover and are offered free studio space for a year at Sarabande Studios after graduation. Studio residents work across a wide range of mediums and disciplines from jewellery to video art, performance to photography. The Foundation hosts a year-round series of inspirational and practical talks and workshops. Past speakers in the Inspiration Series include Maggi Hambling CBE, Grayson Perry CBE, Yinka Shonibare CBE, Simone Rocha and Samuel Ross.

About Mark Westall

Mark Westall is the Founder and Editor of FAD magazine Founder and co-publisher Art of Conversation and founder of the platform @worldoffad