Robography: Light painting with Roombas

Photography is so much like religion in the regard that photography too has many sects, groups, denominations, whatever you want to call it. I have known people denounce other’s work as not photography because they altered the image with the help of photoshop. These purists believe that the art of photography is confined only to the camera and nothing else; other techniques are heresy. And don’t get me started with the whole film versus digital debate. Well, I got news for these orthodox photographers; there are growing numbers of photography groups. The most interesting one I have seen of late is light drawing. Hey, light drawing has been around since the 1930s, you call this news? Let me finish, it is light drawing with the use of robotic vacuums, Roombas.  When I first saw these images I was excited and horrified at the same time. I was excited, because to me this was an ingenious way to draw with light. I was horrified because the second thing I thought was that this could be the first step to Skynet.

Anyways if you are not familiar with light drawing or painting I’ll break it down for you. This technique is usually done at night or in a dark space. Traditionally, by using a hand held light source in combination with a really slow shutter speed the artist can draw an image with light. So what these artists did with the Roombas is that they attached different LED lights attached to the top of each and let them loose. The result is the Roombas’ paths are tracked and since their movements are linear and precise it makes these light painting photographs unique and interesting.

Flickr now has a group dedicated to Roomba art. Check it out, some of the experiments are pretty awesome.