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From Michelangelo To Robots, Italy’s Sculptors Have Evolved With The Times
By Ell Ko, 20 Jul 2021
Image via Robotor
Carrara, a Tuscan quarrying district in Italy, has history in providing the marble that Italian masters such as Michelangelo and Canova used in their acclaimed sculptures. However, now, The New York Times reports that there’s a new type of artist to add to the portfolio.
‘ABB2’ is a 13-foot robotic arm, made of zinc-alloy and a diamond-coated finger. And its coworker, ‘Quantek2’, joins it in the workshop, both milling away at intricate pieces made from bright white marble. They’re owned by Robotor, a robotics company founded by Giacomo Massari and Filippo Tincolini, who are sculptors themselves.
In past interviews, they’ve described their technology as “an AI-based algorithm capable of calculating tool paths in a simplified and autonomous way.”
“Robotor’s technology adds value by doing work that would be strenuous, risky and dangerous for humans, and by making life as easy as possible,” the company’s website states.
The way the robots operate is through being fed drawings and 3D details from a sculptor via Robotor, National Post reports. Give them a fresh chunk of marble and their arms will then activate, bringing the sculptor’s vision to life.
“We don’t need another Michelangelo,” Michele Basaldella, a technician who works closely with the robots, told the New York Times. “We already had one.”
However, there is backlash from artisans who believe in maintaining the traditional craft by hand. “If Michelangelo saw the robots, he would tear out his hair,” argued Michele Monfroni. He maintains a workshop near Carrara and sculpts by hand. “Robots are business, sculpture is passion.” He states that if Italian art were to lose its traditional methods, it would lose international appeal.
“Sculpture is something you have inside,” he said. “If you use a robot, you also become a machine yourself.”
[via The New York Times, image via Robotor]
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