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Data has taken the role of our hands

by DATA sculptor 7 months ago in how to
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In the digital world, data has taken the role of our hands. How can we preserve the language of our physicality, or rather, how can we reclaim the use of our hands in the digital age?

We have already accepted that everything is united under the same code, that we live in a common environment, that we share the same language. Physicality is becoming more and more immaterial.

How can we reclaim the use of our hands in the digital age?

The reduction of time and space that connects us makes us feel a unity. So this story is about connecting, about telling about a world where everything is connected and where art should be able to communicate with other kinds of cultural expressions, as is the case today with music, fashion, design.

Hand drawing vs. code drawing

The hand plays a central role not only as a sensory organ and tool, but also in art and literature. It grasps and feels, strokes and strikes, greets and makes contracts: No part of the body is as versatile as the hand. In language we find countless examples of its prominent role: we take something in our hands, something cannot be denied, and a goal would be within our grasp if only we didn’t have two left hands. Every era associates its own ideas with the hand — and if we are increasingly controlling machines with language, this says a lot about the change we are currently undergoing.

From a purely mechanical point of view, the hand is a fascinating part of the body, because it is capable of performing an almost infinite range of highly complex movements.

They are. co-evolutionary organs.


Moreover, there is an indispensable connection between feeling, touching and doing and thinking: “The hand and the head, if they cooperate (and they do all the time, they cannot), mutually increase their capacity. They are. co-evolutionary organs.

It is all the more astonishing, then, that the hands, unlike the head, the back, or more recently even the intestines, receive so little interest. The hand has lost much of the prestige it gained in the early modern period, as evidenced by the crisis in craftsmanship or hand drawing.

In the digital world, data has taken over the role of our hands. Too many reference books we use, or the numbers we manipulate on our phones, our watches, and other devices, have replaced the manual work that hands used to do. Touching, creating, communicating, they have always been a very prominent part of our bodies, but now they are more and more behind the screens, in a world that is becoming more and more virtual.


Since 2019, in the project myFatherintheCloud.ai, I have been exploring the possibilities of combining traditional sculpting techniques with the creativity available thanks to code and data — DATAsculpting It is a process I use in my work.


The whole process of combining the world of data with the world of hands allows me to see a wealth of meaning hidden in activities I took for granted. I spent most of my life in a traditional carving studio where hands were the basic tool. Only now do I see their complexity, not only in terms of efficiency, but also in terms of transmitting thought.

Creating art using code doesn’t have to be freehand. I am a proponent of supplementing skills, not replacing them.

Art as an “early warning system”

Art is a glimpse into the inner world of human beings and serves as an exciting as well as revealing representation of their ways of thinking, feeling and behaving. It lets us experience what it feels like to be human, in all its diversity. MLart helps us understand ourselves more deeply and also allows us to see others from an outside perspective. It exposes the rules we live by, the beliefs we have, the values we hold dear.

Drawing with code

It’s true that human hands have been replaced by computers in many ways, like typing on a keyboard to create text. But what about drawing with code? Is that really possible? Well, I believe it is not only possible, but desirable.

To understand why drawing with code is desirable, think about what happens when a human draws. A pencil or brush moves across the paper and leaves marks on it. This can happen in a number of ways: Tracing (copying), freehand drawing (creating without a pattern), and using machine learning models.

Tracing is slow and boring, it takes away from the creativity of drawing. Freehand drawing is more interesting because you can create anything you want, but it also takes a long time. It may be faster than tracing if you draw quickly, but when people are in a hurry, they don’t take the time to draw freehand; they just type instead.

Machine learning models are useful because they speed up the time it takes to “draw,” much like the speed of light.

What it really comes down to: expressing yourself.

The thing about drawing is that it should be done in a way that maximizes the time available to think and express yourself. That’s why machine learning tools are useful if you want to draw fast, because they take some of the thinking process off your plate so you can focus on what’s really important: expressing yourself.

I’m not saying that only speed is important; it’s just one element. The complexity of the reality that surrounds us can only be described with tools that are prepared to work with large amounts of data

The images illustrating this article are from MLearning.ai, the database is bas-relief by Siegfried Gross. The dataset consisted of 2000 photos. The images were created without his intervention (he passed away in 2019). His work continues thanks to machine learning. Currently, his works are not created thanks to human hands, but thanks to algorithms that run the code.

I invite you to know the works created in March 2021, it is a good time to become an art collector, thanks to cleanNFTs you become the owner of the drawings and animations viewed.


“Life passes, but art lasts”

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About the author

DATA sculptor

teaching machines to sculpt


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