BNJMN Is a Brilliant Autonomous Art Robot (He Even Signs His Work)

April 15, 2013 | Andy Cush

BNJMN’s work is minimal and meditative–a bit like Franz Kline without all the drama, or RETNA’s deconstructed letterforms. In the below mini-documentary, one observer describes the painter’s oeuvre as “[provoking] a lot of emotions–sometimes it’s anger, sometimes it’s happiness or calmness.”

“[He is] an artist in control of himself but not of the art that [passes] through him,” muses another academic in the documentary. “Which [makes] him very dramatic.”

What truly sets the artist apart, however, are not the aesthetics of his work, but the process by which it is produced. BNJMN, you see, is not a human but a two-armed, three-wheeled, fully autonomous art-making robot. Unlike other artomatons, BNJMN doesn’t need to be preprogrammed with an image. His work comes spontaneously from the very depths of his being, in the form of an Arduino UNO and some fancy random action functions.

In fact, BNJMN doesn’t even need to be put in front of his canvas to create one of his vibrant, bicolor vistas–once he’s calibrated to know what paper looks like (a process a little like white-balancing a camera), he’ll roll around until he finds it himself. And when he is finished working, he signs his painting, so you know you’ve got a BNJMN original.

BNJMN was born at the Basel Academy of Art and Design from the minds of Danilo Wanner and Travis Purrington, Geppettos who describe their prodigiously talented scion as a “mobile sensory image production mechanism.” Maybe someday, he’ll be a real boy.

Watch footage of BNJMN in action above, and the aforementioned mini-doc below.