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Robot turning Japanese children into calligraphers

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Posted August 1, 2013
A boy writes a Chinese letter for "study" with a calligraphy robot at Keio University in Yokohama on July 30, 2013. The motion copy robot can recreate master works and the users can experience the same pressure and the same gestures of brush works by master painters or calligraphers.

A boy writes a Chinese letter for “study” with a calligraphy robot at Keio University in Yokohama on July 30, 2013. The motion copy robot can recreate master works and the users can experience the same pressure and the same gestures of brush works by master painters or calligraphers.

Nijiya Kurota’s little hand grips a calligraphy brush dangling above a clean sheet of rice paper. The brush itself is being held dead straight, just as an expert who has spent years learning the art of “shodo”—Japanese calligraphy—would do.

That’s because a robot arm is also attached to the brush and for a moment, as thick lines of glistening black ink are laid down on the page, Nijiya is transformed into a master calligrapher.

A few days ago the 10-year-old student and his classmates from a junior high school in Yokohama, close to Tokyo, came face to face with this strange invention.

Despite being a deft practitioner of such a subtle art form, there is nothing human about this collection of metal rods and whirring motors.

But the robot writes just like an expert calligrapher and its inventor hopes it will help teach a new generation of Japanese children an ancient skill that many fear is fast dying out.

“The teaching of calligraphy is all but lost so I thought I could forever preserve the art of our great masters on the robot’s memory,” explains Seiichiro Katsura, a professor at Keio University and the robot’s inventor.

The machine itself consists of multiple engines and a mechanical arm which is attached to a brush. Its hard drive has been imbued with the skills of 90-year-old Juho Sado, a master calligrapher who taught the robot how to write a series of “Kanji” characters down to the most imperceptible of wrist movements and brush strokes.

Read more at: Phys.org

 

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