Science

In Italy, Michelangelo replaced by robots

Posted on Jul 29, 2021, 12:52 PM

For centuries, Italian sculptors have sourced marble from the quarry in Carrara, a small town in Tuscany halfway between Florence and Genoa. From Michelangelo to Canova via Bernini, the career has seen the passage of great renowned sculptors who have contributed to making Italy the ambassador of this art. Today, the sculptor goes by the name “ABB2, a 13-foot robotic arm made of zinc alloy,” reports The New York Times.

The New York daily explains how robots have gradually replaced the artists in this workshop. “Slowly and steadily, ABB2 mills the stone slab, leaving the contours of soft cabbage leaves for a sculpture designed and commissioned by a renowned American artist,” the newspaper describes. But ABB2 is not alone in the workshop since Quantek2, another robotic giant, has come to accompany it in the creation of works of art.

World-renowned artists

During the Renaissance, workers in sculpture workshops worked in the shadows. Today, ABB2 and Quantek2 robots continue to operate anonymously, reports the New York Times.

“Many of the artists who employ these robots demand that their identities be kept secret,” the newspaper explains. And Giacomo Massari, the founder of Robotor, the robot sculptor company, added: “Artists want to perpetuate this idea that they are still chiseling with a hammer.” Today, from Jeff Koons to Zaha Hadid, many international artists use this type of robotic technology to shape their works.

Artistic avant-garde

If they are not without flaws and can sometimes make mistakes, these robot sculptors nevertheless have the merit of being much faster than humans. In the article, Giacomo Massari recounts: “Canova took five years to realize” Psyche revived by Cupid’s kiss “, a masterpiece of neoclassical sculpture, whereas we took only 270 hours”.

For the owners of this laboratory, owning these robots allows them to maintain traditional Italian know-how while adapting to the constraints of the 21st century. “The founders and employees of this robotics lab believe that adopting advanced technologies is the only way to ensure that the country remains at the artistic forefront,” writes The New York Times.

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