Mess is More: Drawing with Machines & Robots

Karen ann Donnachie & Andy Simionato

13A Friday, 13B Friday
*See myTimetable for Room & Time

Studio Inquiry

Mess is more explores the (sometimes uneasy) relationship between humans and machines in the making of design and art. Through an introduction to simple software tools and processes in guided workshops, students will experiment by creating original designs and typography to be drawn by Donnachie and Simionato's custom-built human-machine automated-art-systems, and drawing robots. Students will develop a portfolio of original visuals, typography and other design artefacts all generated through machines, robots, and other nonhuman agents. What is the role of the designer in the age of artificial intelligence and machine learning?


This studio engages with research in the growing use of creative coding and emerging manufacturing techniques and tools. Students will be introduced to design practices and theory in the fields of generative and parametric design, drawing and typography. We will also discuss recent research in human-nonhuman collaboration, AI-driven automation, and machine-learning systems in creative practices. 

Communication of knowledge

Students will develop an understanding of open source software, tools, processes and opportunities for parametric and generative drawing, typography and graphic design. Student works and processes will be published to a physical and virtual exhibition space at the conclusion of the studio.


Students will learn how to use existing software (Adobe Illustrator) as well as code-based tools (Processing and Javascript) to create a series of unique parametric and generative design works to be executed by Donnachie and Simionato's drawing machines. Each week students will experiment by creating their own typography, drawing and image-making to be drawn by a variety of custom made machines, including harmonographs, Cartesian (XY) robots, Wheeled-robots, SCARA-arm robots, and other, um, harder to define creations.


Brief 01: Case-studies in Automated-art-systems (group research).

Brief 02: Major work for exhibition in the school and online.

Brief 03: Studio Knowledge Object (SKO) which includes a series of original drawings/typography/design from throughout the semester.

Pre-Reading ; "When the Machine Made Art:The Troubled History of Computer Art", by Grant D. Taylor ; "Hello, Robot: Design between Human and Machine" by Mateo Kries (Ed.) ; "Mathematics and Art: A Cultural History" by Lynn Gamwell ; "The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction" (1935) by Walter Benjamin

Communities of Practice
Designing Experiences, Design and the Post-Digital, Designing through Image, Designing Disobedience

NO previous coding experience is required for this studio. However, students who wish to explore parametric and generative design techniques will have the opportunity to do a series of weekly "Hour of code" sessions with Karen Ann Donnachie.


NO previous robotics experience is required for this studio. This studio will primarily use pre-existing drawing machines and tools made by Donnachie & Simionato. We will, of course, guide and advise any students who wish to try making their own drawing machines or robots!

About Karen ann Donnachie | About Andy Simionato

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