YEREVAN — I met Vladimir Suvorov, the founder of Van Der Bot, at the Armenia Art Fair of Contemporary Art, held in the end of May. What he presented was beyond imagination — a contemporary robot artist named Van Der Bot, who creates art. Thinking with artificial intelligence, painting with robohand and interacting as a human, it combines modern technologies with classical artistic tools, making physical works reflecting a current age.
Suvorov is an engineer by profession, a businessman and technology expert, who has patents under his name and articles. He worked for US EMC company (now Dell-EMC) and was a lead researcher in AI lab in Russia. Vladimir, from St. Petersburg, has Armenian roots, who has long wanted to visit Yerevan and now lives with his family here.
Vladimir, it was interesting to see Van Der Bot, and observe how its arm uses oil paints and brushes to turn any photo into a piece of art. But the question is: why?
Actually this is a very common question. There are many people who think of themselves as artists. We even found data that says 38 percent of people think they are artists, but only 1.5 percent of them can paint. So with our robot we want to fill that gap. To be an artist or to start painting you don’t need anything, but to show this to your friends and colleagues and get their admiration, you definitely need some skills. Our typical costumer is a businessman, a self-established person. He has a job, a family, everything in his life, but he thinks he wants to create something and to leave a mark in history. But he cannot paint. Of course, he can go to some art classes and study, but that takes lots of time. So he sees in our robot a way to express himself to go into the business with art, gather his friends around that work, use the robot for the education of children. This is something people want to bring into culture. Someone said: you are selling a dream. You are buying a Tesla not because you want the car to go, but to buy something really great. This is the same. Some people say that this cannot be considered art. In that case I remind them about photography. You click the button, and the device gives you a result, which can (or cannot) be a piece of art. We give a picture to our robot, that he turns into a painting. Another field is the music. We hear the music with electronic synthesizer, electronic guitar, and you hear the music from the acoustics, not just from the instrument. This is the technology that comes into the transmission. Can you say that this is not the music that human produced? We do not substitute the human, we give the instrument to the human to express himself, like the art is more about the concept, what you want to express, but not about the skill. You may have a great dream, but not skills to transfer it. So we are just giving an instrument to express his idea. And third example I can bring-the human should distinguish any object or text made by robot versus something done by a human. Here we tested even the painting. We brought professional artists and asked them to draw a triangle. And then the robot drew the same. Many people failed to guess what was painted by a human and what by the robot. Of course the triangle is a simple object, but we can take our painting to other artists and ask if they can draw like this or ask who did that. So it is the context you bring.
Many famous artists have assistants. Do you think your robot can act as painter’s assistant?