Let us go then, you and I, to meet Skryf, a robot created by Dutch artist Gijs Van Bon. The robot uses a repurposed CNC machine to spray out a thin layer of sand in the shape of letters and Van Bon uses it to print out lines of temporary poetry on sidewalks. As the robot writes, the feet of passersby spread the sand far and wide, destroying the art as it is created.
This video, filmed in July, shows Skryf printing poetry at Dutch Design Week in Eindhoven. “When you’re writing one [line of] text, another one is going away because people start walking through it,” wrote Van Bon on Dezeen. “Once I’ve finished writing, I walk the same way back but it’s all destroyed. It’s ephemeral, it’s just for this moment and afterwards it’s left to the public and to the wind.”
The robot – basically a standard RC quad-wheel with a fairly impressive sand dispenser on CNC rails – receives its orders and then writes about 130 feet per hour. Van Bon takes cues from the places he’s visiting in order to chose the poets Skryf will write out. For example, at Dutch Design week he chose Merel Morre, the poet of the city of Eindhoven. It’s a beautiful commentary on the value of art versus technology in society and it’s also a pretty nice printing rig that could be repurposed to paint in liquids or even chalk. It’s also a clever way to get people to think about poetry again.