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An autonomous bot on Thingiverse is remixing objects into bizarre, artistic creations

Thingiverse is full of virtual objects of all sorts that can be generated on a 3D printer. The one thing most of them have in common is they’re supposed to be useful in some fashion. That’s not the case with the 300 or so items created by Shiv Integer. That’s not a person, but a bot whose sole purpose is to create weird new objects and publish them on Thingiverse. If you need an “Extruder in place of British Hubles” or a lovely “Semi-compatible Wine strapped to a resealable,” Shiv Integer has you covered.

The bot was created by Matthew Plummer-Fernandez and Julien Deswaef as an art project. The bot lives on Thingiverse, scanning its vast repository of things. It downloads objects published with Creative Commons copyright and merges them together into bizarre and interesting new objects. Nothing Shiv Integer creates has an explicit purpose other than to exist and be weird. Many of them are probably not even printable. The items names are constructed in a similar way by mixing up the names of other objects on Thingiverse.

Some users find its autonomous antics amusing and interesting, but others see it as nothing more than a spambot that fills the front page with useless junk. You can’t really dispute that — everything Shiv Integer throws together is completely useless. That doesn’t mean it’s not also fascinating to see what it comes up with.


Whether or not you think Shiv Integer’s creations are art (if a bot can even create art), there’s definitely an annoyance factor for the non-artificial users of Thingiverse. Shiv Integer creates a lot of objects on Thingiverse, and that has sometimes put it at odds with the community. It’s only been operating since February, so it’s averaging more than two new creations per day. In addition to pushing useful objects off the front page faster, Shiv Integer might ping a dozen different users each time it uses their work in one of its creations — the description of each object includes a parts list of what was used to make it.

I’m sure the creators of Shiv Integer intended it to be a little annoying. If no one was watching, it wouldn’t be a very interesting experiment. The duo outed themselves last month in order to showcase some of Shiv Integer’s work at an event called The Art of Bots in London’s Somerset House. Perhaps if it runs long enough, Shiv Integer will actually make something useful entirely by accident. It might not have a chance, though. As some Thingiverse users have pointed out, the site’s terms prohibit bots. It will probably be shut down sooner or later.

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