Interview with Leonel Moura

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Leonel Moura (1948) is a European artist born in Lisbon, Portugal, that works with AI and robotics. He created in 2003 his first swarm of ‘Painting Robots’, able to produce original artworks based on emergent behavior. Since then he has produced several artbots, each time more autonomous and sophisticated. RAP (Robotic Action Painter), 2006, created for a permanent exhibition at the American Museum of Natural History in New York, is able to generate highly creative and original art works, to decide when the work is ready and to sign it, which it does with a distinctive signature. ISU (The Poet Robot), 2006, generates random poems, very much in the style of the Lettrist Movement and of Concrete Poetry.

In 2007 the Robotarium, the first zoo dedicated to robots and artificial life, opened in Alverca.

Leonel Moura has been appointed European Ambassador for Creativity and Innovation (2009).


Since 2000 I have been working with artificial intelligence and robotics applied to art. From the start my intention was to develop what can be coined “artificial creativity”, stemming from what is now largely accepted as “artificial intelligence”.
I believe to have demonstrated that machines, since provided with a small intelligence and the ability to gather information by their own means (sensors), can generate what can be easily seen as an “artistic behavior” originating pictorial compositions not very distinct from those produced by human artists.
I discard the relevance of the lack of intentionality and consciousness in robots.
It is well known that in modern art history there are many examples of art movements and artists that aimed to achieve precisely those goals.
Actually modern art is rooted on the exploration beyond common sense
reasoning towards the fields of subjectivity, experimentalism, randomness and more recently chaotic determinism and emergence.
Machines can in fact “do their own things” since, once the process is triggered, the result is not only independent from the human that originate it as it is unpredictable.
This means that the product of “artificial creativity” is human at the start but nonhuman at the end. These experiments also show that creativity is essentially a biological and evolutionary mechanism.
We find it in the behavior of all living organisms.
To accept the existence of nonhuman art has more to do with philosophy than with facts.
It must be taken in account that the broadening of the concept “art” is what modern art is really about.
Nonhuman art is just another (big) step.


FiveWordsForTheFuture - Sep 7, 2016 | Art, Artificial Intelligence, Robotics, Video
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