We explore an art form where machines take essential role in aesthetics and processes of the creation. Our main theme can be summarized as “body, hybrid, and “evolve” - as we study an artistic medium that incorporates mechanical machines that institutes a hybrid creation process as well as an expressive capacity beyond body limits.

“Flying Pantograph” transposes human-scale drawing acts to a physically remote output canvas in different scales and aesthetics. A drone becomes an “expression agent” - modified to carry a pen and be controlled by human motions, then carries out the actual process of drawing on a vertical wall. Not only mechanically extending a human artist, the drone plays a crucial part of the expression as its own motion dynamics and software intelligence add new visual language to the art. This agency forms a strong link between a human artist and the canvas, however, in the same time, is a deliberate programmatic disconnect that offers space for exploiting machine aesthetics as a core expression medium.

The seemingly straightforward technical realization is in fact a combination of non-trivial mechanical and algorithmic solutions. The drone, a floating machine, is relying on a slim chance of stabilization acquired by battling the vortex of air, the pressure and friction on the canvas surface, and the capricious mind of the human artist. This suspense, the vulnerability to instability and the aftermath of crashing, poses a contrast with the optimistic idea of technologically evolved capability of a human artist.


Sang-won Leigh, Harshit Agrawal, and Pattie Maes. A Flying Pantograph: Interleaving Expressivity of Human and Machine, TEI 2016 Arts Exhibition, 2016  [PDF]

Sang-won Leigh, Harshit Agrawal, and Pattie Maes. Z-drawing: a flying agent system for computer-assisted drawing, SIGGRAPH 2015 Poster, 2015  [PDF]