SUMMIT, NJ — Don’t expect “Albert” to be confused with Da Vinci, Rembrandt or Van Gogh, although his work is very public.
Albert is a robotic spray-printing machine used to beautify downtown Summit in September, creating a dot-matrix mural on the side of a building on Union Place. The building, which houses Pizza Vita on the corner of Summit Avenue and Union Place, now displays a black-and-white depiction of historic Summit Avenue.
“If you’re looking at the mural and you turn around, that’s essentially what it’s a historic picture of,” Nancy Adams, executive director of Summit Downtown Inc., said in a recent phone interview with LocalSource. “It’s as if you’re looking toward the old Town Hall.”
The mural, which was approved by Summit Downtown, the Summit Historical Society and the building’s owner, was completed in about three hours at the town’s Art and Cars festival on Sept. 16. SprayPrinter worked in conjunction with Summit Downtown Inc. and Main Street New Jersey, a statewide program that works with towns to revitalize their downtown areas, on the project.
“Beautification is a part of what we do, so we jumped at the chance to add the mural to our downtown area,” Adams said.
SprayPrinter is a business based in the northern European country of Estonia and has an office in San Francisco, Calif.
In an email to LocalSource, Henry Patzig, a design engineer at SprayPrinter, described the process: “First we process the image to be suitable for the robot and insert the image data. Then we anchor the robot to the wall, load the paints and press start.”
The mural is painted by Albert, the shoebox-sized robot, which paints the mural line by line — either vertically or horizontally — and the operator can only pause the process and replace the paint cans when they are empty.
“The robot decides all of the movements and decides when and where the pixels are printed,” Patzig said.
Summit was one of five towns in the New Jersey area to receive these one-of-a-kind murals, making them the first group of murals made by SprayPrinter on the East Coast. Other towns that have completed murals include West Orange, Bridgeton, Auburn and Metuchen. The towns coordinated to greatly reduce the cost, already significantly lower than that of a hand-painted mural.
“The mural looks great and it certainly adds interest to the town,” Adams said. “It’s also a fraction of the cost of a hand-painted mural which is great.”
The mural will last about 10 years, according to Adams, who added that, “Summit hopes to have more murals in the future.”