Our Nerdiest Show Yet

It has been a long time coming, but Joel finally got to bring out his inner nerd to Something Else listeners.  At last the seemingly “hipster-cool” host’s façades of ‘independent filmmaker’ & ‘alternative arts lover’ were broken down and replaced by his true nature – that of a bespectacled computer nerd who likes “drawing comparisons to web design…[and] WYSIWYG editing” and who is “conceptually really impressed with the idea of open source”. Okay, so you never thought he was cool… Regardless, he still had the nerdy pleasure of talking about artistic robots, the online open source community and graphically generated code via illustrator vector graphics with new media artist, Grant Stewart, on last week’s episode of Something Else.

After Grant was spending countless hours creating topographic inspired, layered art with a ballpoint on paper, “which was getting really tedious and really strenuous”, he decided why not let a robot do the hard work for him? And thus ‘Drawing Robot‘ was born when Grant created a custom-made robot out of lego and other miscellaneous parts and programmed it to draw the countless layers of ballpoint pen lines for him.


He did this by using ‘Processing‘ and ‘Arduino‘ open source software and hardware respectively, and drawing on their communities who traditionally share work (and the code which creates it) so that artists and programmers can iteratively improve on each other’s creations. Quite ingeniously Grant also worked out how to use (the aforementioned) illustrator vector graphics to get around writing countless lines of code (which would not have saved any of the tedium and strain of drawing the art by hand). To do this he discovered code which could interpret the lines he draws in illustrator (software used to design & illustrate graphics on the computer) and automatically writes the code for him.

In his upcoming solo exhibition, at Monday Week Gallery in Melbourne, Grant will also have the robot creating a piece of art (a process which takes upwards of a month) in the gallery for the duration of the exhibition. The process of the robot creating the art is as much art as the finished product, which hangs on the wall (but there will, of course, also be several finished products adorning the gallery’s walls).


Grant also discussed his previous artistic creation, (‘Give my wheelchair a push, I’m like a camera just ticking over’ or just simply, ‘Time Slices‘) an interactive time-based piece, and some of the themes explored in this work.

To hear about all of that and more, check out our podcast by going to  iTunes, opening up the ‘Advanced’ menu bar, selecting ‘Subscribe to Podcast’ and pasting this URL into the dialogue box http://www.cpod.org.au/feed.php?id=30.

Alternatively, head over to http://eastsidefm.org/arts/somethingelse to stream the episode (with songs) for a limited time!

– Joel