A British-made robot that uses cameras and a robotic arm to create abstract art was released after Egyptian authorities detained him at customs.
Ai-Da, named after math Ada Lovelace, was hijacked by border agents last week who feared her robotics might be hiding secret spying tools.
Officials held the robot for 10 days, jeopardizing plans to display its work at the Great Pyramid of Giza on Thursday.
The UK embassy in Cairo told the BBC that it is “happy” that the case has been resolved.
“The embassy is pleased to see that Ai-Da, the robot artist, has now cleared customs,” the embassy said in a statement. “Customs clearance procedures can be lengthy and are required before importing works of art or computer equipment.”
According to creator Aidan Meller, border guards kidnapped Ai-Da because they suspected his modem, before raising issues with his camera.
Mr. Meller offered to remove the modem, but said he couldn’t remove the cameras, which are essential to Ai-Da’s ability to paint. The robot uses artificial intelligence algorithms to transform what is recorded through its camera into works of art.
“I can ditch the modems, but I can’t really gouge her eyes out,” he told the Guardian.
She praised the work of the UK ambassador, who Meller said had “worked all night to get Ai-Da released,” but stressed that her late release meant it would be difficult to prepare her for Thursday’s show. “We’re up to the wire now,” he said.
The work was supposed to be part of the first contemporary art exhibition at the Pyramids in Egypt for 4,500 years.
Both Ai-Da and his sculpture were shipped in special air cargo cases to Cairo prior to the “Forever Is Now” exhibition, which runs until November 7th.
His clay sculpture is an interpretation of the Greek enigma of the sphinx: what happens on four feet in the morning, two feet at noon and three feet in the evening? A human being going through the stages of being a child, an adult and finally old age using a walking stick.
His interpretation of the famous Greek riddle is a three-legged Ai-Da sculpture.
Ai-Da was completed in 2019 and his artwork, which includes the first ‘selfless self portrait’, has been exhibited at the Design Museum and the Victoria and Albert Museum in London.
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