It has been 15 weeks since I began the Multiplexicon project, which according to the original schedule would indicate that I should have roughly 30 renders done by this point. At this moment, there are 17. However, I hardly think that I've fallen behind. A good chunk of time has been spent preparing these models for 3D printing as well. A quality of myself that never ceases to amaze me is my infallible ability to come up with the absolute hardest way to do something. True to form, it turns out the method of modeling I am using is the precise opposite way you would want to go about designing something for rapid prototyping. In order for the typical slicing algorithms to map out how a printing head would go about producing a model from a mesh, there needs to be no internal geometry in the mesh. Well, wouldn't you know it, my current method creates MILLIONS of internal vertices that frustrate the slicer. Ho hum.
I have, nevertheless, gotten a couple prints to come out nicely with the help of a friend from work, Wade Gruber. Wade, as it so happens, has recently gotten into 3D printing and is interested in the challenge of printing these strange geometries as a way to refine his own skills. This has in turn challenged me, and has also taken some time away from modelling, but the process has been quite fun! In truth, the best way to go about this would be to look into using a different software (I'm using Blender currently) or a different method altogether. I've talked a lot about this method and maybe it's time to explain it somewhat…
Most of the meshes I've created so far are built from the repeating of base shapes found within the Blender software (Spheres, Cubes). Using a looping coding structure, I can place these shapes where I would like according to some algorithm, but in order to have them be printable there can be no floating parts. Thus, the meshes overlap one another, creating that pesky internal geometry I mentioned before. There are certainly ways to get rid of this internal garbage and have Blender re-model the mesh with only the remaining vertices using what's called a "Boolean Union" operation, but this isn't always reliable. Spheres are more problematic that cubes, and smooth contours made of closely packed meshes are more troublesome still.
However, despite the difficulties, I've come to like this style of making that I've been exploring. It's spontaneous and promotes experimentation. It has become normal for me to play around with different values in order to see the results, and to change symmetries to achieve some desired or unforeseen effect. The price of starting over is nothing and I can tune and play to my heart's content without having have spent hours or days on a single piece. My Python knowledge has also improved with every mesh I've designed, and there are plenty that I have not posted up. So, I will continue with this method of creation, even if it is inconvenient for printing, if only to enjoy the sensation of creating with code.
I also have been thinking about what this project means and what I'm intending to explore and study be undertaking it. I have mentioned the "Language of Multiples" before, and I would like to clarify that in a more formal essay. The concept of emergence is central to this endeavor, and the question of whether or not emergence is a physical property or our mind's shift in how we perceive once the complexity increases to a certain point. Put succinctly, is emergence an illusion? I find that artistic expression is an appropriate tool with which to explore this idea.
In the meantime, onward!