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Watch These Eerie Fibonacci-Inspired, 3D-Printed Sculptures Come to Life

All hail the golden angle.

by Becky Ferreira
Jan 19 2015, 11:30am

​Image: ​Edmark/Instructables

​The geometric beauty of the Fibonacci sequence is frequently expressed in nature, from the fractal growth of plants to the spiral arms of galaxies. It's no surprise that such an elemental pattern in the universe has also inspired countless works of art, including, most recently, a series of mesmerizing moving sculptures designed and 3D-printed by artist John Edmark. The final result was posted this week on Vimeo, and it's definitely worthy of a "whoa, dude."

Edmark, who teaches design at Stanford University, created these trippy visuals with the Fibonacci sequence very much in mind. "These are 3D printed sculptures designed to animate when spun under a strobe light," Edmark explained in the video's summary.

"The placement of the appendages is determined by the same method nature uses in pinecones and sunflowers," he continued. "The rotation speed is synchronized to the strobe so that one flash occurs every time the sculpture turns 137.5º—the golden angle. If you count the number of spirals on any of these sculptures you will find that they are always Fibonacci numbers."

So basically, the extra detail provided by the strobe light and shutter speed creates an optical illusion of lifelike motion from the sculptures. Even without the animation enhancement, the sculpture would still produce an uncanny mobility, but slowing the process down makes the piece look even more detailed and biological.

It's an ingenious replication of one of nature's favorite signatures. Fortunately, Edmark has released his methods on Instructables, for anyone interested in making their own Fibonacci zoetrope sculptures. It's also worth browsing through the other videos put up by Pier 9, where Edmark is currently an artist-in-residence. From mushroom timelapses to a child's prosthetic arm decked out with LEGO, there is a lot of great material to sift through.