Living Light: Human Figures Dance Inside 3D-Printed Zoetrope

All it takes are a few highly focused beams of light and a spinning zoetrope to make a human figure spring to life, walking or even dancing in a barely-visible translucent circle. ‘Process and WALK’ explores the relationship between time and movement, taking a two-dimensional image of a person and applying it to a three-dimensional object. In effect, the person’s movements are stretched out to take up the entire circle, each fraction of an inch containing its own particular shifts of the arms and legs.

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Artist Akinori Goto lays out the whole process in the video above, showing how he transforms a animation of a person walking into a 3D axis that can then be translated into data for a 3D printer. The result looks like no more than a warped piece of plastic mesh, with no discernible shapes embedded within it. Place it on a turntable and it still won’t look like much – until beams of light highlight just one segment of the edge.

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Once that happens, the walking figure appears. Every few seconds, the illuminated figure seems to multiply, sending additional figures to other points along the zoetrope. It’s simple and complex at the same time, pairing a pre-film animation device that’s been in use for centuries with cutting-edge small-scale manufacturing technology