Watch Sculptures Appear to Undulate Under Strobe Lighting

Charlie Nordstrom
Charlie Nordstrom / Charlie Nordstrom

Artist John Edmark makes 3D-printed sculptures that are designed to "animate" when they're rotating on a turntable and lit in just the right way.

There are two ways to create the effect—either view the sculpture in person while a strobe light flickers over it, or take a video with a very fast shutter speed (so each frame of the video is a tiny sliver of time, similar to a strobe light burst). In the videos below, the latter approach is used.

Edmark explains how the sculptures work mathematically:

Blooms are 3D printed sculptures designed to animate when spun under a strobe light. Unlike a 3D zoetrope, which animates a sequence of small changes to objects, a bloom animates as a single self-contained sculpture. The bloom’s animation effect is achieved by progressive rotations of the golden ratio, phi (ϕ), the same ratio that nature employs to generate the spiral patterns we see in pinecones and sunflowers. The rotational speed and strobe rate of the bloom are synchronized so that one flash occurs every time the bloom turns 137.5º (the angular version of phi). Each bloom’s particular form and behavior is determined by a unique parametric seed I call a phi-nome (/fī nōm/)

Now look at this:

If you'd like to make your own, here's an Instructables lesson on the process; he also provides shape files on Shapeways. If you lack time, patience, and a 3D printer, Edmark sells some of his work online. You'll also enjoy his Vimeo page, full of great videos. New designs are now appearing on his Instagram page.

(Animated image of the artist and his sculpture by Charlie Nordstrom, used with permission.)