WITH BRUSHES, CANVAS and PAINT, Dulcinea is the first fully-automated robot ever created that can paint an entire painting unattended, often overnight. She picks her paint, and may create thousands of brush strokes per painting, washes her brushes, switches colors, and collaborates with Paul Kirby and his computer programs to create paintings that grow from Paul’s ideas about capturing the essence of experience and bringing it to life.
THE ROBOT is a custom, gantry-style design, eleven-feet high, ten-feet wide and weighing about three-thousand pounds. For manipulating the paint brush (as a human might) there are seven, high-performance, servo motors run by an Adept Technology robot controller. Housed in a six-foot high, electronic cabinet, along with the controller, are motor controls, power amplifiers, power supplies and assorted electronics. Mounted on a four-foot wide control panel are various pneumatic controls for automated paint-vessel exchanges and brush-washing operations. Her brushes are sable artist brushes and her paintings are one of a kind works of art that move forward the interface between science and art.
Once you have watched Dulcinea sweep across a painting, lyrically applying the color to the canvas, the question “Why don’t you just paint?,” no longer makes sense.
The name “DULCINEA” was inspired by the character in Don Quixote. Among other things, Cervantes’ tale is about dreams and inspiration and vitality in life. His character, Dulcinea, is a hard-working bar maid, but in Don Quixote’s eyes she is a beautiful, fair maiden. So this robot is a hard worker, but what she creates is beauty and fascination.
THE MYSTERY OF WORKING WITH DULCINEA is in the Fusioneering™. Their work is an exploration and distillation of so many fields. Their contribution is so significant, that it will define a new realm of fusion and a new way of looking at art and its production.
PAUL KIRBY is the progenitor of Fusioneering™, the creator of Dulcinea, and the force behind A. L. Productions and The Kirby Foundation. Paul has a degree in electrical engineering and computer science from U. C. Berkeley and an MBA from Harvard and over forty years working with computers in many capacities. He has twenty years of fine art background and training.
Paul also has that spark of innovation that is the mark of a truly original mind. Through a combination of technical expertise, artistic talent and study, and a compelling curiosity, Paul envisioned and then created a robot who uses real-life behaviors and brush strokes to create and paint original art. This creation led to the understanding that Fusioneering™ exists in many fields and crosses boundaries in ways that excite and entice us into the realm of the greater good.
In early 1994 Kirby was visiting a Leonardo da Vinci museum show in Malmo, Sweden. The extensive exhibit not only included some of Leonardo’s notebooks but also had drawings of machines and their life-sized wooden replicas. These machines inspired Kirby to put his extensive knowledge and expertise to work on a robot created specifically to paint. He was not interested in re-creating the printer, or in pixel art. Kirby was looking for haptic art in the tradition of the masters.
From this inspiration and without a background in art, mechanical engineering, machine-shop operations, robotic design, real-time robotic programming, pneumatics, higher-levels of Lisp programming, artificial intelligence or artificial life, Paul pursued an ambitious, multifaceted track for gaining proficiency in all of these areas which made him part of a tradition of Fusioneers™ who have existed throughout time, ready to burst through boundaries and emerge with deeper creativity.
Kirby succeeded in creating Dulcinea, a robust, fully-automated robot and since, has produced a series of paintings in collaboration with the robot incorporating brush strokes, artificial life computing, and extensive explorations into the history and technique of art.
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