Most AI-based artists work exclusively in front of their computers. Sougwen Chung is different: they train robots to physically paint in tandem with them on massive canvases. Before they used AI, Chung, who identifies as nonbinary, painted expansive abstract artworks filled with bold, flowing lines. They then trained a neural net on decades of those paintings—and built robots trained on those neural nets to paint with them in real time. When they paint a line, the robots mimic Chung’s line and then extend it outward with new ideas and patterns. “What I’m chasing is that surprise and wonder in that machine translation,” Chung says.

Chung, 38, travels the world, painting with their robots for live audiences. Chung compares their relationship with their robots to that of a musician with their violin. “In some ways, the robotic system is a kinetic instrument that I’m navigating with,” they say.