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20th Dec 2016

Spinning 3D Printed Sculptures Create Hypnotic Optical Illusions


Inventor/Designer John Edmark has created a series of incredible designs for 3D-printed sculptures that appear to move, utilising an effect similar to a zoetrope. Edmark teaches design at Stanford University. As these sculptures spin on a rotating base, the leaves and patterns on them appear to move up and down when they are lit with a strobe light.

The placement of the pointed edges is determined by the same method nature uses in creating the structures of pinecones, sunflowers, artichokes and palm trees . The rotation speed is synchronised to the strobe light so that one flash occurs every time the sculpture turns at exactly 137.5 degrees. 137.5 degrees is a very special angle, called the golden angle, based on the golden ratio found in nature. If you count the number of spirals on any of these sculptures you will find that they are always Fibonacci numbers.

If you don’t understand all that mathematical and biological jargon, you’ll still be able to appreciate the beauty and art behind this hypnotic optical illusion. For this particular video, instead of using a strobe, the camera was set to a short shutter speed (1/4000 sec) in order to freeze the spinning sculpture. Absolutely fascinating.