Technological advancement in Arts is minuscule compared to the advancement in everyday utility. Not too long ago, we had to carry a separate feature phone, mp3 player, digital camera and storage disk etc. Today all we need is a smart phone. But when it comes to fine arts, a hefty brush set still has paint brushes of different forms and sizes. A brush may vary in its toe, bristle, belly, heel or handle. We need a single brush which can adapt to a changing nature of intended strokes.
Solution in Nature
There are several phenomena in nature which give us a direction toward solving this problem. Skin alone, for instance, act as a complex adaptive system among innumerable mammals. But one natural phenomenon is most curious in this regard. The skin of a lamprey is much peculiar in its response to the environment. There are CPG’s (central pattern generator) neurons in the spine of a lamprey. They help the organism adapt to both direction and force of a current. One could say that the relationship between water and lamprey is like the relationship between air and dandelion. Both have forms which are highly informed by the dynamics of their context. To design a paint brush which mimics a lamprey, one ought to break down the components of painting process as well. For that, in this case is analogous to the understanding of water.
Row1Column1: Closeup of Lamprey
Row1Column2: Lamprey’s Adaptation to Currents
Row1Column3: Lamprey’s Body Movement
Row1Column4: Undulation Amplitude from Head to Tail
Row2Column1: Study on Undulatory Locomotion
Row2Column2: Different Grips for Holding Brush
Row2Column3: Schematics of Brush Structure
Row2Column4: Variations in Water Capacity of Brush
Row3Column1: Kerastase Smart Hair Brush
Row3Column2: Braun Oral-B Smart Toothbrush Series
Row3Column3: Apple Pencil Sensors for Pressure and Tilt
Row3Column4: Smart Fibers’ Temperature and Pressure Sensors
Row4Column1: Smart Fibers’ Strain Sensor (Concept)
Row4Column2: Tangram Smart Rope
Row4Column3: Electro Active Polymers
Row4Column4: Electro Active Polymer Gel
The bristles of a brush which can function like a lamprey must take its cues from
1. The way an artist holds the brush, position of wrist and grip etc.
2. Distance of the grip from tip of bristle
3. Firmness of the grip
4. Broadness of intended stroke as a factor of pressure exerted on the surface (or on a certain holding area of the brush) and finally,
5. Smart stiffness of a fiber
It turns out that significant milestones have been achieved in developing styluses such as Apple pencil which has a rather nice tilt and pressure sensors. All of them however, one way or another, depend upon the surface on which the draw. A fine artist should not be restricted like this, for texture alone of paint and canvas is significant component of the artwork. The whole body of brush must be receptive to the grip for complete information it needs to deliver the stroke. The brush should not be connected to any surface and work as an extension of human hand in a rather much literal sense. Like any complex adaptive system, it should not get its input all the way up from human brain but take orders directly from the grip, movement and gestures of hand. Detailed drawings of this nature gadget are presented below.