Judith Cottrell employs a unique method of drawing technique, moving her hand in repeated looping movements across a surface to achieve her compositions. For her Artpace Window Works installation, In the Window, she has removed her own hand from the process, developing a drawing machine or “drawbot”-with the help of Ottowa-based inventor and programmer Darcy Whyte-to translate her imagery on our Main Avenue windows. Built (and named “Mr. Drew”) by Whyte, the drawbot mimics Cottrell’s intricate, repetitive patterning to realize a large-scale, progressive work that will evolve throughout the duration of the exhibition.
The drawbot aka Mr. Drew is an Arduino-based machine that is driven with an open-source software program called Processing. To translate Cottrell’s image, it uses a dual polar coordinate system, as opposed to a Cartesian system of specifying points in a plane by a pair of numerical coordinates along the x and y axis. Mr. Drew translates a bitmap of the drawing into pixels that the hardware can interpret using shading and movement algorithms.
The overall composition will be completed over the course of Cottrell’s four-month exhibition. To encourage viewer participation and to further employ technology in her work, she has designed a mobile website-which can be accessed by scanning the accompanying QR code or Microsoft Tag-to find out more detailed information about the work as it progresses, and to submit suggestions for future drawbot projects. (Viewers can also access the site at inthewindow.mobi.)