Posted by: dbjaquith | November 22, 2015

Who is the artist — the Robot or the Cricket or Harvey Moon?

This drawing machine comes with a supply of paper.

This drawing machine comes with a supply of paper.

Contemporary art practices differ greatly from those when I was school-age. Today’s creators bring together a wide range of media in service to their ideas. Take Harvey Moon, for instance. He is fascinated with the concept of collaboration, both with technology and nature. He puts a cricket in a box, programs a robot to track the cricket and then make marks on paper that correspond with the cricket’s movements. Showing the video of Harvey Moon’s Drawing Machines to 4th graders elicits a range of opinions as to who is the artist of the drawing. Though some believe it to be a collaboration between the three, many will argue for the cricket. After all, the cricket determines what the course of the drawing will be. Others feel strongly that the robot is doing all the work while Harry Moon sits back and just watches. Still others insist that, without Harvey Moon, none of this could happen.

After a lively discussion, I invite students to create their own drawing machines if they choose to do so. Using materials found in our Attachment Test boxes and other found objects, students set out to make a drawing machine of their own. There is a lot of trial-and-error in the process, a Studio Habit we call “Stretch and Explore.” Students test out their hypotheses, revise and try again. Below are videos of several 4th grade drawing machines. See what you think!

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