A press release from the National Gallery of Victoria states that Agnieszka Pilat, a renowned artist, is currently training three robot dogs made by Boston Dynamics to paint for the upcoming exhibition.
The training will take four months, after which the robots will independently paint using oil sticks on an acrylic canvas attached to the wall. The exhibition, called NGV Triennial, will open in Melbourne in December.
Pilat has a special connection with one of the robot dogs, nicknamed “Spot,” which she calls Basia. Basia even lives with the artist in New York. Pilat considers Basia to be her companion and will miss it while it is painting in Melbourne.
“It is like having a small child – at some point, you have to let the child get on the bus by themselves; that is how this feels,” she told The Guardian on Wednesday.
Interestingly, Pilat’s relationship with the robot dogs began when she was commissioned by Boston Dynamics to paint a portrait of Spot. She describes the robot animals as “playful” and “partners of humanity.”
“I thought of it as a new celebrity, a new ruling class,” she said. “Portraits reflect power in society – Andy Warhol was painting celebrities, old portraiture reflected aristocracy. Now the power is going towards the machine, and it’s our obligation to really engage with it. It’s on us, their parents, to engage and train them to be good future citizens.”
“I am [a] techno-optimist – I like to say that I do for the machine what Diego Rivera did for the working class. And when people meet Spot in person, the vast majority fall in love very fast – it’s hard not to be charmed by them because they’re very cute,” she added.