Artist, entrepreneur, and computer programmer Dolf Veenvliet, also known by his online identity, “Macouno,” has created a new virtual life-form. Macouno’s creations, called Entoforms, are modeled using a combination of open-source software applications, including scripts he has written himself. Macouno is currently financing an Entoform exhibition in Amsterdam’s Walls Gallery through an IndieGoGo crowdsourcing campaign.
In an exclusive interview with Decoded Science, the creator of these computer-modeled bugs that combine technology with artistry, had this to say about the world of Entoform creation:
Decoded Science: Where did you get the idea for this process?
Macouno: I’m actually not entirely sure… I think a big part of it was the way I have been working with the software of my choice lately. I use Blender 3D for almost all of my projects. And since Blender 2.5 came out last year we can use its Python API (think of it as a way to reprogram the software) to make Blender do things on its own as if you’re manually using it. So, in a way, I’ve been writing software that makes the computer build things the way I would. Slowly I’m teaching the computer to make the Entoforms the way I would do it, but to make its own decisions.
Entoforms Created with Python API on Blender 3D
The base of the Entoform creation model is a free, open-source software called Blender, which allows artists to model three-dimensional sculptures on a computer. In addition, Macouno uses scripts he has written in Python API (Application Programmer’s Interface) to create unique creatures based on a set of predetermined specifications. He then prints out the creation on a 3D Printer to create a finished product.
Computer-Based Evolution and Pseudo-DNA
The system used to design each individual Entoform uses a string of letters to determine the unique characteristics of the piece. Once the Entoform has been named, Macouno’s scripts translates the letters in the name to come up with a design. Each letter corresponds to a feature, and results in a change in the appearance of the design. The overall result: a unique design for each name, such as the “Decoded Science” Entoform that you see here. The ability to randomly generate unique combinations of characteristics based on this pseudo-DNA model may provide advances in other areas, but for now the Entoform software model is for entertainment only.