We welcome our new Twitter-controlled artistic robot overlords

May not be a picture of painting spiderbots

Robots, social media, spray cans and three of the world’s leading design creatives are coming together in Auckland this month at design conference Semi-Permanent as part of Orcon’s Spider Art, which is believed to be the world’s first art painted by Twitter-controlled ‘spiderbots’.

Orcon Spider Art will see three giant canvases set up that will be overlaid with stencils created by three of the top international designers speaking at Semi-Permanent, Barcelona graphic designer and illustrator Alex Trochut, Melbourne design studio SouthSouthWest and New York artist, designer and printmaker Kelli Anderson. During the two days of the conference (18-19 May), the artworks will be completed by ‘spiderbots’ – robots armed with spray cans, taking instructions from the Twitter community. At the end, the stencils will be revealed to reveal three robot-painted, crowd-created artworks.

During the two days of the conference the artworks will be completed by robots armed with spray cans and guests tweet the coordinates of a square on the grid of their chosen artwork, the colour they’d like it painted and the Orcon Spider Art Twitter hashtag.

At the end of the conference, once all squares have been painted, the stencils will be removed from the three canvases to reveal the final artworks. Two of the finished artworks will be won by participants, while the third will be gifted to CanTeen.

“Spiders, Twitter and artwork are unusual bedfellows, but we’re really excited about seeing this whole thing unfold and bringing another world-first to New Zealanders,” says Orcon’s brand and communications manager Quentin Reade. “We’ve always said the internet is everything, and now it’s changing the way we create art.”

The twitter-controlled bots that will surely kill us all as they grow more intelligent were devised for Orcon by M&C Saatchi and created by the London arm of New Zealand creative agency We Love Inc.

M&C Saatchi digital producer Matt Ravenhall says the project is a great example of how technology can lead innovation in both design and art.

“Using technology and creativity to connect international artists with the social sphere is an exciting project for any company to undertake. This collaboration is a perfect example of what can be achieved when you combine high-speed internet and developing technology. We can’t wait to see the finished art.”

The spiderbots took 12 weeks to create and Nick Redwood, technical director of We Love Inc’s creative technology department We Love I.T., says a lot of trial, error and paint fumes were involved in the development process.

“Innovative projects such as this one are not for the faint-hearted and require some serious bravery from everyone involved, but the chance to do something new and world-first makes it all worth it. Twelve weeks and thousands of hours prototyping, testing, making, breaking and remaking are all part of it – from our studio in Hoxton, East London to the studio on K’Rd in Auckland.”

Orcon Spider Art takes place at Semi-Permanent on 18 and 19 May. And the final artworks will be revealed on the afternoon of 19 May.

Speaking of robots, or robot-like entities, here’s what the Daleks have been up recently.

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