Blooms: Hypnotizing 3D Printed Sculptures Come Alive Under Strobe Lights

It’s really easy to lose a chunk of your day getting lost in the hypnotizing effects of these trippy 3D-printed sculpture animations by artist John Edmark. Drawing from spiral patterns and numerical sequences often found in natural objects like pine cones, cacti, sunflowers and seashells, the objects seem to shift and change before your eyes when spun under a strobe light. Watching the videos of the sculptures in motion, it’s hard to believe these aren’t digital animations.

“Unlike a 3D zoetrope, which animates a sequence of small changes to objects, a bloom animates as a single self-contained sculpture,” says Edmark. “The bloom’s animation effect is achieved by progressive rotations of the golden ratio, phi, the same ratio that nature employed 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 137.5 degrees (the angular version of phi.) Each bloom’s particular form and behavior is determined by a unique parametric seed I call a phi-nome.”

The artist explains that much of his work celebrates the patterns underlying space and growth, explored through kinetic sculptures and transformable objects. Highly precise mathematics come into play in both the design and fabrication of each object, more to ask questions about spatial relationships that can only be answered with geometrically exacting constructions than to put that precision on display or “exalt the latest technology.”

It’s a cool way to utilize 3D-printed objects, though, and if you want to play with the effect yourself, you can even purchase the individual shapes from Edmark via Shapeways. He offers a tutorial to repeat the results at Instructables.