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A labor-saving device for graffiti artists. An assistive tool or telematic proxy for taggers working in harsh environments. Long-needed relief for graffiti artists with RSI. Or simply, pure research into as-yet-untrammeled intersections of automation and architecture. We give you: the ROBOTAGGER, an industrial robot arm programmed with GML, the new “Graffiti Markup Language” created by Evan Roth and pals at the FAT Lab.

This quick project came together over the past weekend in CMU’s Digital Fabrication Laboratory (dFAB), directed by my pal, Professor Jeremy Ficca. Inspired by a tweet from Evan Roth, one of the co-creators of GML, we reckoned it would be easy to transcode GML into a file format suitable for robotic CAD/CAM machining. The result is a small Processing utility that converts GML into DXF and CSV (you can download the GML-to-DXF source code here). After tinkering around for a while we developed a pipeline for converting the GML/DXF strokes from into machining paths for the dFAB’s ABB IRB-4400, an eight foot tall industrial robot arm. One of our first tags, which you can see in the video, was made from GML produced by TEMPT ONE (Tony Quan), a graffiti writer with Lou Gehrig’s disease who produced the GML recording with the FAT Lab’s well-known EyeWriter software. Although there’s been a lot of data loss and translation along the way, it’s not completely unreasonable to think of the Robotagger as a prosthesis for Tony. I hope we can pursue this possibility a little further.

Speaking of future directions, there are lots of interesting research topics latent here in automated calligraphy. We were astonished to realize just how important the force-feedback of pressure is to the visual quality of the drawings. (The first 20 seconds of the video shows what I mean in an extreme way – we shattered a marker and sent ink everywhere when our estimate of the Z-plane turned out to be off by a quarter-inch. Looks like we need to get that force-measuring software extension that ABB sells.) Going forward, we’re interested in exploring robotic performances of higher-dimensional gesture data, such as that produced by Wacom tablets, which provides high-resolution information about the pressure, azimuth and elevation (yaw and pitch) of the tagger’s stylus. Watch this space — I’ll be developing some tools to help the next version of GML encode this information.

The Robotagger is a collaboration of Jeremy Ficca’s dFAB at CMU; the STUDIO for Creative Inquiry at Carnegie Mellon, which I direct; and the FAT Lab’s GML initiative. We used the Sharpie Magnum and the wonderful 2-inch Montana Hardcore markers, which (AFAIK) are the largest magic markers in commercial production. (And of course, for the deep history of prior work blending graffiti and automation, don’t forget to check out the spraycan-enabled Graffiti Writer robot [1998-2000] by the Institute for Applied Autonomy, and Jürg Lehni’s wall-spraying Hektor robot [2002].) [Extra link: RoboTagger on Youtube]

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Posted on January 13, 2010


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fi5e hosted an off the chain chaotic picnic for Teorías del Caos at Mangum Lab in Mexico City, earlier today.

This occasion is also his first ultra interactive -2.0 live multimedia stream ever!, with extra points for the compiz*.

To watch this properly on the internets: pay attention to the rap alert, follow this slides and grab the p1cn1c special with fi5e’s favorite Whiz Khalifa trax.

Chaos showed up as usual, so you are going to miss some advances on some upcoming bad ass projects. Stay tuned for live chaos next month with El Proyecto Sonidero and DJ /rupture

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Posted on July 31, 2009


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We have a bad ass guest, to host our monthly picnic at Teorías del Caos.

Join us from everywhere via Bambuser , next thursday July 30th, at 8pm (Mexico City Time) More info, right here.

* Sí estas en la Cd. De México te esperámos en Mangum Lab

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Posted on July 27, 2009


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Jesus Saves was one of the first graffiti writers I got to know when I moved to NYC. I just received an email from him with a link to this compilation video he made of all the projects we worked on together. Most of the footage is from back in the Graffiti Analysis days of 2003 – 2005.

  • He writes that the clip was made by filming the screen and “cutting off the clips from the others 2 only show mines lol i know it sounds greedy but yo i do it 4 the love of my tag”. Check out the rest of his clips on his youtube account here.

  • Most of the applications shown in these videos were made with early pre-release versions of Zach and Theo’s Open Framewerkz

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    Posted on May 6, 2008


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