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Exploring the Golden Ratio in Motion

In Short

Our eyes are easy to trick. In the presence of a strobe light, we only see individual moments which our mind connects to a continuous motion, like in a stop-motion movie. We use this effect to create incredible optical illusions of a forever growing bloom.

Our sculptures don’t just look like plants, they are in fact constructed using the same natural laws which govern the formation of their leaves and petals. It once more goes to show the intelligence and beauty that nature is made of. Concept by John Edmark

Details and Theory

Strobe light proves not only useful to create disorientation in nightclubs, but is also used to analyse periodic movements. Every repetitive movement like oscillations, vibrations or rotations can be visually brought to a standstill if the frequency of the light flashes from a stroboscope correspond to the frequency of the movement. If they differ slightly, it seems as though the object is moving very slowly.

To create the illusion, we rotate sculptures that are constructed abiding the rules of the golden ratio around their own axis. 

The Golden Ratio, a concept dating back to ancient Greece, defines a harmonious ratio represented by the formula (a + b) : a = a : b ≈ 1.618…. This means that the ratio between a whole (a) and its larger part is equal to the ratio between the larger part (a) and the smaller part (b). The result of this ratio is approximately 61.8% for a and 38.2% for b.

The Golden Angle, a result of the Golden Ratio, measures 137.5… degrees. When a full circle is divided by this angle and its multiples, it yields unique positions characterized by their captivating aesthetics.

In Bloom, an installation that seamlessly blends art and technology, 3D-printed sculptures take center stage. These sculptures appear as simple plastic structures at rest, but when set into rotation under strobe light, magic unfolds.

The sculpture’s rotation and the strobe’s flash rate are synchronized. At each 137.5-degree turn, a flash is triggered, briefly illuminating the object and creating apparent “still images” of the spinning artwork. The effect is reminiscent of the appearance of backward-spinning car tires in cinematic sequences.

The strobe frequency in this installation is approximately 60 Hertz, equivalent to 60 frames per second, while the object rotates about 23 times per second. This captivating interplay of light and motion bestows upon Bloom its unique visual appeal.

To gain a deeper understanding of the artwork, you can conduct some experiments. Swiftly move your hand under the strobe light, and you will observe individual still frames. Turn off the strobe light, and the object appears as a mysterious mist or a spinning top, perpetually in motion.

The idea originates from John Edmark who invented this animation technique and designed the first Blooms.