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The project “Embodied Agents in Contemporary Visual Art (EACVA): How Robotics and A.I. Could Influence Creativity” approaches questions that are central in debates in the field of human-machine interaction, art, aesthetics, and creativity through a multi-disciplinary collaboration between artists, computer art and robotics engineers, philosophers, sociologists, and psychologists. With the innovative interdisciplinary methodologies we will use in the project we plan to nourish a cross-pollination of ideas between the artistic and technical/scientific domains.

As main objectives, we will aim at addressing the following themes and questions:

  • Embodiment, creativity and aesthetic value: How does the embodiment of an image generation system into a robot or drawing machine influence the attribution of creativity, authorship and agency to the system and to the robot itself? What influence does such embodiment have on the perceived aesthetic qualities of the resulting artefacts?
  • Interaction and mediation: How does the interplay between different robots, programming procedures, artistic choices and level of interaction with the artist and with the audience influence the distribution of agency between human creators and machine-generated actions that result in aesthetic artefacts? How do these dynamics affect the public’s engagement and appreciation of the resulting artwork?
  • Interpretation and perception: How does the audience’s interpretation of the mechanism underlying a robotic painting/drawing procedure influence the perceived creativity of the system and the aesthetic and cultural value attributed to the resulting artefacts?
  • Shared authorship and extended embodiment: What are the modes of shared authorship between artists and robotic AI agents? What types of robotic systems can be adopted by contemporary artists and act as extension of their own body capacities?

We will complement a theoretical investigation on perceptions of creativity in artificial systems with empirical studies aimed at testing how observers evaluate the creative potential of embodied robotic systems in an artistic residency and a final exhibition. The exhibition will represent an opportunity to investigate our research questions by gathering quantitative and qualitative data through questionnaires and surveys. The show will provide a unique public engagement opportunity which will involve key actors in the British and German artistic, scientific, and humanities sector, opening up possibilities for the development of a wider network of international collaboration on the topic of artificial creativity and human-robot collaboration.