The Computer Museum hosts premiere of The Robotic Artist The Computer Museum hosts premiere of The Robotic Artist

Feature Editors FEATURE... BOSTON--(BUSINESS WIRE FEATURES)--March 13, 1995--

On April 1, 1995, The Computer Museum will host the world premiere of `AARON,` an expert system with its own painting machine built by the celebrated artist, Harold Cohen. Each day until May 29, the computer-driven robot controlled by AARON will create an original painting - the first of its kind.

For the last six years, Cohen, who directs the Center for Research in Computing and the Arts at the University of California, San Diego, has been integrating artificial intelligence, robotics and his approach to art into the development of a robot that paints. The result is shown as The Robotic Artist: AARON in Living Color. AARON is Cohen's continuously-evolving, rule-based program, running on a Silicon Graphics Indy computer, which creates the images for painting.

Each day, beginning at 10 a.m., visitors can join Cohen or one of his assistants, as they select one of the drawings AARON composed overnight and send it to a 486 computer, controlling the robot painter. A small robot arm is carried around a 8-ft. by 6-ft. table from an array of `brushes,` bottles of dye and mixing cups to the area of the painting. Grabbing a cup, the robotic arm places it under a bottle, opens and closes the dye tap, puts the cup in a holder, picks up a brush, dips it in dye, and paints. Over the course of the day, a 25-sq.-ft. colored image emerges, depicting people against a variety of settings.

`Cohen explores creativity as no one else has- by programming a computer to create a model of art-making that proves itself by making art,` said Pamela McCorduck, author of AARON'S CODE: Meta-Art, Artificial Intelligence, and the Work of Harold Cohen.

`The fascinating question is: Whose art is it -- AARON's or Harold's?` says Henry Hopkins, director of the UCLA/Armand Hammer Museum of Art. As director of the Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco, Hopkins exhibited an earlier turtle-based version of AARON.

Cohen's answer is: `I wrote the program. AARON makes the images.` AARON is Born One of the most highly evolved expert systems ever developed, AARON represents more than 20 years' work by Cohen, a painter, who turned to computing in 1968. By then, he had represented Great Britain at the Venice Biennale and been exhibited at London's Tate Gallery. In full command of his art, he had a `reputation as a painter equal to that of any British artist of his generation,` according to Michael Compton, Keeper of Modern Painting at the Tate. `But the quest to express what he sees and knows took him somewhere else,` said McCorduck. He went to Stanford's Artificial Intelligence Laboratory in 1973 at the invitation of A1 pioneer, Professor Ed Feigenbaum. There, Cohen used the computer to test his theories about image-making, and AARON was born.

AARON has evolved from a few rules generating simple shapes to composing complex figures, requiring detailed knowledge, both of its subject matter and of the methods of visual representation. The program draws autonomously, relying on its own knowledge, on a branching structure of rules and on feedback paths from what it has done to determine how to proceed. Since 1974, AARON systems and artworks have been exhibited worldwide, including appearances at the Tate, the Stedelijik Museum, Amsterdam, and the 1985 World's Fair, Tsukuba, Japan.

Cohen Teaches AARON to Color Since 1989, Cohen has addressed the complex problem of color, explaining, `To write the program, I had to find a way to represent color symbolically: a tricky problem, given that we humans don't seem to deal with color symbolically ourselves.` He developed his coloring strategies, writing in the programming language, Lisp, for the screen of his Silicon Graphics workstation. Those strategies had to be translated into terms appropriate to the mixing of dyes by the painting machine. Then, a robot had to be built that could `paint` in a style befitting a fine artist.

A screen-based version of AARON will be installed in the Museum's ROBOTS & Other Smart Machines gallery, where an earlier AARON has created drawings since 1987.

The Robotic Artist: AARON in Living Color is being sponsored by Gordon and Gwen Bell, American Airlines, the American Association for Artificial Intelligence, and Silicon Graphics.

LOCATION: 300 Congress St., Boston, Mass. ADMISSION: Adults $7.00; students and seniors $5.00; children four and under and Members free. HALF PRICE: SUNDAYS 3-5pm. WINTER: OPEN TUESDAY-SUNDAY, 10am-5pm. For more information, call 617/423-6758.

--30--lis/bos is/bos ac/bos CONTACT: Computer Museum Gail Jennes, 617/426-2800, x341 Internet: jennes(at)tcm.org KEYWORD: MASSACHUSETTS CALIFORNIA INDUSTRY KEYWORD: COMED COMPUTERS/ELECTRONICS AEROSPACE/DEFENSE BANKING BUILDING/CONSTRUCTION EDUCATION ENTERTAINMENT MEDICINE RETAIL TRAVEL REPEATS: New York 212-575-8822 or 800-221-2462; Boston 617-330-5311 or 800-225-2030; SF 415-986-4422 or 800-227-0845; LA 310-820-9473 AP-NY-03-13-95 0803EST This material is copyrighted and may not be republished without permission of the originating newspaper or wire service. NewsHound is a service of the San Jose Mercury News. For more information call 1-800-818-NEWS.