It’s truly amazing what can be done artistically with 3D printing. The medium allows for plenty of design freedom, and some artists have even taken the approach of using Gcode to generate unique works of art. There’s something fascinating about using code to create art; it’s a true melding of creativity and technology, and nothing like it was ever possible until recently. 3D printing art studio Cunicode was founded in 2011, and is run by Bernat Cuni, a product designer who specializes in digital fabrication. Through the studio, he collaborates with other individuals and service providers to create digitally-generated works of art.
Cunicode’s latest work, Permutation, is a collection of stoneware. Each piece is composed of nine basic units placed around a cylinder. They were designed in Rhino and Grasshopper and 3D printed by BCN3D Technologies on a PotterBot 3D printer. The number of variations that can be generated by the code is truly staggering. For example, one piece, titled “P114.3,” could have been made with 148,791,629,670,981,130,805,037,453,479,575,340 different combinations. That’s one hundred and forty eight decillion, seven hundred and ninety one nonillion, six hundred and twenty nine octillion, six hundred and seventy septillion, nine hundred and eighty one sextillion, one hundred and thirty quintillion, eight hundred and five quadrillion, and thirty seven trillion, four hundred and fifty three billion, four hundred and seventy nine million, five hundred and seventy five thousand, three hundred and forty. Yikes.
Ironically, there’s something ancient-looking about the pieces themselves, their combinations of lines, dots and swirls resembling some kind of old written language. One could make a philosophical statement about art coming full circle, about the newest form of art mirroring the oldest, about digital fabrication creating similar works to what humans created thousands of years ago. If you don’t want to get that deep, however, you can still appreciate the ceramic pieces for their beauty.
Cunicode’s other projects are just as fascinating. In one, called art.faces, eight famous paintings were selected, and the designers allowed the Convolutional Neural Network (CNN) to “perform a direct regression of a volumetric representation of the 3D facial geometry from a single 2D image.” In other words, the faces in the paintings were turned into 3D representations. They’re almost eerie to look at, as though there’s something alive about them.
Another work, Tree Ring, takes photogrammetry data captured from a live tree and turns it into beautiful rings that look like metallic slices of a tree trunk. Others include 3D figurines made from children’s drawings, GPS tracks turned into tiny 3D printed mountains, and experimental jewelry and coffee cups.
Some people are still skeptical about 3D printed art, but in my opinion, there’s no question that digital fabrication is just as valid an art form as any other. Deep knowledge of the technology is required to generate art like Permutation and Cunicode’s other works, as well as the creativity to harness the technology to create something both visually appealing and brand new. It takes just as much craftsmanship to create something digitally as it does manually – and thankfully, the idea that 3D printed art isn’t true “art” seems to be fading.
If you’re interested in creating an experimental project using digital fabrication, Cunicode is accepting requests for collaboration.
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