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The Whimsy Artist is a little robot that both creates and destroys art

Arduino TeamMay 22nd, 2023

Many people find the subjectivity of art to be frustrating, but that subjectivity is what makes art interesting. Banksy’s self-shredding art piece is a great example of this. The original painting sold at auction for $1.4 million — and then it shredded itself in front of everyone. That increased its value and the now-shredded piece, dubbed “Love Is in the Bin,” sold again at auction in 2021 for a record-breaking $23 million. In a similar vein to that infamous work, this robot destroys the artwork that it produces.

“The Whimsy Artist” is a small robot rover, like the kind you’d get in an educational STEM kit. It is the type of robot that most people start with, because it is very simple. It only needs two DC motors to drive around and it can detect obstacles using an ultrasonic distance sensor and has two infrared sensors for line-following. An Arduino Uno Rev3 board controls the operation of the two motors according to the information it receives from the sensors.

That decision-making is where the artistic elements come into play. When it doesn’t detect any obstacles, the robot will run in “creative” mode. It opens a chute on a dispenser to drop a trail of fine sand while it moves in a pleasant spiral pattern. But if it sees an obstacle with the ultrasonic sensor, it gets angry. In that mode, it reverses direction and uses the IR sensors to follow the line it just created while deploying a brush to ruin its own sandy artwork.