TR #409: Computer vision for a robot sculptor

Matthew Brand December 1996

To appear in:

Human Vision and Electronic Imaging, SPIE Proceedings 3016


Before make computers can be active collaborators in design work, they must be equipped with some human-like visual and design skills. Towards this end, we report some advances in integrating computer vision and automated design in a computational model of ``artistic vision'' -- the ability to see something striking in a subject and express it in a creative design. The Artificial Artist studies images of animals, then designs sculpture that conveys something of the strength, tension, and expression in the animals' bodies. It performs an anatomical analysis using conventional computer vision techniques constrained by high-level causal inference to find significant areas of the body, e.g., joints under stress. The sculptural form -- kinetic mobiles -- presents a number of mechanical and aesthetic design challenges, which the system solves in imagery using field-based computing methods. Coupled potential fields simultaneously enforce soft and hard constraints -- e.g., the mobile should resemble the original animal and every subassembly of the mobile must be precisely balanced. The system uses iconic representations in all stages, obviating the need to translate between spatial and predicate representations and allowing a rich flow of information between vision and design.