Self Portrait

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Flash Fiction  |  House: The Imaginarium


Can an artist ever be artistic?

Submitted: May 03, 2018

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Submitted: May 03, 2018

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Self Portrait.

 

Arnold had always been fascinated with robots, ever since he was a young boy. Due to the fortunate timing of his birth, he was able to continue that fascination forward on into adulthood. In fact, his entire life revolved around robots and furthering their development.

 

He was not interested in getting them to perform simple and menial tasks. He was happy to let others do that. Let them provide the robots for the factories, the manufacturing industries. Or any other kind of physical labor, come to that. Arnold was interested in art.

 

People scoffed at him, said how it could not be done. A robot could not become an artist, not in the true sense of the word. You could program it to write using a defined dictionary with words for everything. It would never write anything with feeling, with passion. Likewise, you could program it to paint a specific image, to copy something, but it had no imagination. It could never be capable of producing any kind of genuine artistic content.

 

Arnold disagreed but he kept his thoughts to himself. Many were the hours he spent locked away, working in secret on developing his artist. Most nights it quickly became obvious that he had not got very far, but then there came a night when he could be heard from inside the locked room. And it sounded very much as though he was laughing.

 

He threw open the door and announced in a loud voice, ‘Tomorrow you will meet my artist!”

 

The next morning, Arnold gathered as many people as he could find to see his creation – Pierre the Robot Artist! For the morning, suggestions were made for subjects for him to depict in paint and to be fair he did a pretty good job of it. All seemed to be impressed. But the true test was to come in the afternoon.

 

“Pierre, what I would like you to do this afternoon is paint a picture of yourself. A self portrait! Show us how you see yourself, for if you can do that you truly will be an artistic robot.”

 

Pierre walked over to the easel, picked up a paintbrush, then paused, as though considering. Finally he dipped his brush into some paint and began placing a dab here, and a blob there, and swirls and whirls. He was definitely engrossed in his painting.

 

“I think we should leave him for an hour or two, otherwise we might distract him. Disturb his ‘creativity’.”

 

“You think?” asked Carlos, another robot enthusiast, but of the more traditional kind.

 

“Yes. I do. Why don’t you show me what you’ve been working on.” Carlos needed no more prompting.

 

When they returned Pierre was standing in front of a canvas. The painted surface looked nothing like the robot, but then it looked like nothing else either. Clearly, the robot had ‘created’ something from it’s own thought processes.

 

“Well done, Pierre. This is marvelous! This is how you see yourself?”

 

The robot gave a slight nod.

 

“Now there is one thing that this picture needs to make it complete and that is a name and a signature. You can write on this space underneath, so as not to ruin the actual canvas.”

 

Pierre picked up a slim-tipped brush and dabbed it in some black paint. In careful and precise writing he painted ‘Rust! A self-portrait by Pierre.

 

Arnold and Carlos looked at each other and back to the canvas. It really did have a kind of rustiness about it, but neither of them knew quite what to say.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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