Artist Alex Kiessling Uses Infrared Sensors, Robots To Create Art In Three Cities Simultaneously

By Philip Ross on September 30, 2013 4:24 PM EDT

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Austrian artist Alex Kiessling, left, creates a drawing in Vienna as a video screen displays a robot drawing simultaneously in London. Kiessling enlisted the help of two robots to create a work of art simultaneously in Vienna, London and Berlin in what he called a world first. (Photo: Reuters)
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A computer monitor displays a combination of Kiessling’s original drawing in the center and accompanying robots' drawings in Vienna. The heads will be united and exhibited as a panel painting in Vienna and London. (Photo: Reuters)

"Long Distance" - that's the title of Austrian artist Alex Kiessling's art piece created in three cities simultaneously. The 33-year-old recruited two robotic artists to help him complete "Long Distance," a series of three drawings each with one full face flanked by two half faces on either side.

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Kiessling drew from Vienna, while the two industrial robots - one in London, the other in Berlin - shadowed his every move. According to The Daily Mail, the robots were actually two ABB IRB 4600 industrial machines, the same kind used in manufacturing assembly lines. Each was about 9 feet tall and weighed nearly half a ton.

It took Kiessling about six months to come up with the method and software to execute "Long Distance." The 33-year-old artist used an infrared sensor attached to the end of his black marker to trace his movements and sent the signal via satellite to the industrial robots on Trafalgar Square in London and Breitscheidplatz, a major public square in Berlin.

"What are the machines doing, actually?" he asked during a news conference, according to Reuters. "It appeared to me in working with the machines that it was less about a kind of copy and more like a clone."

The heads will be united and exhibited as a panel painting in Vienna and London, The Daily Mail reports.

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