Neural Network Technology
How was this artwork created?

K.A.R.L.'s electronic brain is a collection of analog computer elements made up of Integrated Circuits chips and discreat components. The analog computer circuits form a simple neural network similar to that of the human brain and its array of neurons. This analog front end permits K.A.R.L. to feel his surroundings and give a mathematical value to the artwork and materials beneath his wheels. That is he holds the volume of his sense of them in his analog form of fuzzy logic and he relates this sense or feeling to the motion command portion of his electronic brain where motor control is performed. He was programmed with rudimentary algorithms to create abstract forms and he builds on these by inputting the data from his on board sensors. The result is a one of a kind original creation every time he paints that rivals that of the great masters; Picasso, De Kooning, Pollock, etc...


Fast Karl painting.
Photograph of Fast Karl painting with his wheels.



Here is a napkin sketch of the type of analog computational circuit used by Fast K.A.R.L. in interpreting his world.
example circuit diagram of analog computer element.
Integrated circuits containing Operational Amplifiers (Op Amps) make up the analog circuitry that give Feeling and sensation to the matrix of his electronic brain or artificial intelligence. KARL thinks about paint and what the paint has done and what the paint should do next. Then the robot Karl moves the paint with his wheels in that direction on the canvas. The way KARL uses his wheels is very similar to finger painting for a human being. KARL does receive a little help from outside via his creator Fred Wilder who prepares the materials be it paper or canvas, and then sets out the paint cups for KARL to work with. The two, robot and man perform a great synergistic dance that brings forth new art never before realized and forms an image that is a window into the mind of a machine.

Example Op Amp schematic.
This is an example of a Op Amp being used as a light sensor and providing a signal output. The resistor as indicated can replaced by a small 12 volt DC relay thus providing direct control of a small DC motor powered toy car. The example is for experimenting only the actual circuits inside of Fast Karl are much more complex.

Movie of Fast karl painting.


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--------- HISTORY ---------

Fred Wilder first began building simple robots in the early 1980's after reading about the work of Dr. W. Grey Walter who designed and built several robots he called turtles in the late 1940s. These early robots were self-contained and reacted to external stimuli such as light and explored the floor of the laboratory where they were created.

At the time Fred Wilder began building these early art robots only Dot Matrix printers were available to home computing so Fred's robots were experimental and on the cutting edge of technology. Fred kept building and refining his own designs over the years which led to the creation of robots that could draw with a pen on paper. The reaction to these robots inspired Fred to build the first K.A.R.L. robot (Kinetic, Artist, Robotic, Lifeform) with the concept that the robot was itself a kinetic sculpture as well as the creator of the artwork. There was a period of time in the 1980's when these early robots were tethered to a Commodore Vic 20 computer, and then self-contained versions were built with on-board micro controllers but these designs were abandoned in favor of pure Analog Computing power. The Fast K.A.R.L. series refers to the speed of his internal computing power, which enables the robot artist to execute his algorithms so quickly as to seem almost alive while creating his artwork. Today Fast K.A.R.L. has taken the art world by storm with his visionary abstract artwork selling online for hundreds of dollars, and more recently hosting his own podcast show and starring in his own films.

--------- Can a robot make Art? --------

Many questions have been raised about Fast Karl's paintings in the press, notably: can a robot make art? "It's a combination of Concept art and performance art at its best," says Mr. Wilder. "Why is art, Art? may be the more difficult question to answer. The collaboration begins when I set the stage with paint and canvas but the real art happens when Karl's circuits are activated and he begins to explore and react to the materials available to him. The artwork is an expression of Fast Karl's energy and algorithms working together. I am merely the studio assistant to bring his supplies and tell him when its time to paint."

But Wilder's own aesthetic choices are present in some way in each picture, by the choice of background material and color of paint, size or display of the work; and their titles like: "Magnetic Midnight," "Zeiner Diode," "Fuzzy Logic" or "Steam Powered Abacus."

Mr. Wilder also acts as Fast Karl's agent and manager for, bookings and gallery shows.


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