Creativity is regarded nowadays to occur in an interplay of humans, objects and activities. It happens especially in combination with machines like the computer and techniques like AI. Such situations of shared agencies involved in creating the new are raising a number of questions: Which roles do media, machines and automation play? Who is the inventor or the author? And: Can creativity be automated? These questions pertain to art, design and architecture and their cultural innovations alike.

The direct investigation of creativity or creative processes is fraught with problems. Thus, the reconstruction and analysis of creative processes of the past is of great importance. This is the point where the art historical research project starts: With the analysis of Machine Art projects of the 20th and 21st century – like drawing machines – creativity becomes accessible via arts in an indirect way; artists are regarded as creative persons par excellence. The case studies of the project will be understood – in the sense of actor-network-theory (ANT) – as human-machine-media-networks, to take also the obstinacies and relations of all inolved actors as well as subject-theoretical implications into consideration.

The project aims at investigating Machine Arts in a historical-systematic manner and to join these insights with discourses of creativity. It shall be worked out, how three aspects of artistic production, which are seen as decisive parameters in the discourse of creativity, are reflected critically: the subject, the involved media and the processes.

Methods of art history, image and media studies will be used, especially these of notational iconicity and diagrammatics. Furthermore, a praxeological perspective is pursued by the development of drawing bots that will be built in order to foster a practice-based understanding.

The gained insights are relevant for theories of artistic production as well as studies of drawing and media, not least for the current debate on human-machine relations.