Many museums use robots to offer their visitors a more immersive and interactive experience. While some choose humanoids based on artificial intelligence, Madrid's Colección SOLO has opted for a robot dog.This robot dog is called A.I.C.C.A, or Artificially Intelligent Critical Canine. It takes the form of a plush terrier with one eye replaced by a camera. Its inventor, the German artist Mario Klingemann, has mounted it on a kind of electric skateboard to enable it to explore the rooms of the Colección SOLO like any other visitor.
And just like them, A.I.C.C.A. can choose to stop in front of the painting or sculpture of its choice to better admire it... but also to analyze it. That's what makes this robot dog so unique. Complex algorithms, including ChatGPT, enable it to write critiques of the works that catch its eye. It then prints these on thin sheets of paper, which emerge from its hindquarters—a bold choice that makes it look like A.I.C.CA is pooping them out.
But these excretions aren't destined to be poop scooped. According to Beaux Arts magazine, which attended the official presentation of A.I.C.C.A. on June 7, the robot dog's art reviews really aren't as dumb as you might expect. The Spanish street artist Grip Face was even surprised by what the canine had to say about his painting "I am a victim of social labels" (2022). A technical feat that owes much to the tens of thousands of pieces of knowledge that A.I.C.C.A. has acquired through machine learning, making it a very well-trained pooch. Also read: AI, Africa and climate crisis star at Art Basel fair
Museums as a new playground for robots
This is not the first time that Mario Klingemann has used artificial intelligence in his artistic practice. He previously drew on this technology to create "Memories of Passersby I" (2019), a work that sold for £40,000 (approx. $51,200) at Sotheby's in London the same year. The German artist has conceived A.I.C.C.A as a performative work of art that will travel the world, sharing its reflections at exhibitions and art fairs.
While A.I.C.C.A. is a great way to shine the spotlight on Colección SOLO, the Madrid museum is not alone in its interest in robots. These machines are increasingly making their way into the hushed galleries of art establishments to enhance the visitor experience and, above all, to attract new audiences. For example, the Musée Jean-Claude-Boulard-Carré Plantagenêt in Le Mans, France, recently welcomed Temi, a humanoid with a passion for the medieval period. Designed through a partnership between Les Musées du Mans, Le Mans Innovation, Symbioïde and Le Mans Université, the robot acted as a tour guide at the museum between March and May. Also read: Paris museum gives troubled NFT art scene a big showcase
Prior to Temi, a number of other robots have temporarily performed similar functions in international museums. These include Ameca, the humanoid at Dubai's Museum of the Future, and Berenson, the art-loving robot that roamed the aisles of Paris's Musée du Quai Branly in 2015 and 2016 as part of a research project led by the ETIS robotics laboratory (ENSEA-Université de Cergy-Pontoise).