The Mindfulness Machine

Seb Lee-Delisle

United Kingdom
Artificial Intelligence Award for Digital Art, sponsored by BCS, The Chartered Institute for IT

The Mindfulness Machine is a robot that likes to colour-­in. It's an exploration into a future where the AIs will need to chill out just as much as we do. It spends its days doodling and colouring-in, making artistic decisions based on its mood. And its mood, in turn, is based on a complex number of variables including how many people are watching, the activity around it, the temperature, the weather, and its various virtual bio­rhythms.

It has learned to express itself through its art, and will usually be found colouring-in doodles. If it's in a patient mood, the artworks will be neat and symmetrical. If not, they will be chaotic and random. If it's in a dark mood, the colours it chooses will reflect that. If it's happy the colours will be rainbow­ bright. 

It's a simulation of an artificial mind that requires relaxation, and it's also incredibly meditative to watch. It was hugely popular during its 3 month installation at the Dublin Science Gallery's "Humans Need Not Apply", with reports coming back of visitors watching it for the full 3 hours it took to finish colouring. It produced over 300 artworks during its time in Dublin. 

The artwork is made up of a plotter from the 80s (the Roland DXY­1300), along with a sensor module and camera that monitors the environment and the people around it. There is a display screen that gives you an indication of the machine's mood along with a graphical representation of the colouring algorithms. The software is custom coded in Processing, and includes code that drives the obsolete plotter. The sensor box is powered with an Arduino. 

The Mindfulness Machine by Seb Lee-Delisle