Computerized Sketching With The Polargraph

<p>Sandy Noble&#8217;s drawing machine the Polargraph has a style all its own.</p>

Helena Vieira

Sandy Noble's drawing machine creates detailed and characteristic drawings. Named the Polargraph due to its dual-polar coordinates system, the machine uses a pen and string as its drawing tools. Powered by an Arduino microcontroller and an Adafruit motor shield, the Polargraph sketches out whatever it is programmed to—one layer at a time.

Each piece takes the machine hours of steady and systematic work. Due to the angle at which the mechanism works, the finished artworks have a stylistic property very particular to the process of their creation. In a lot of respects, the Polargraph is very similar to Harvey Moon's drawing machine and the AS200, but the movement of the drawing tool somehow maintains a more computerized feel in the repetitive shapes. It also has an ability to vary the size of each pen stroke more than these previous machines could, meaning that the simplicity of the shapes by no means limits the potential complexity of the final drawing.

Noble recently exhibited some of his work and along with an installation piece named Lazy Eye at Framed Gallery in Edinburgh earlier this month—the first exhibition of his Polargraph work.

It would appear that the story of the Polargraph is still in its early days as Noble endlessly experiments with making the machine work in even better and more complex ways. It will be interesting to see what other tools the Polargraph is capable of using, and on what scales.