3D Printed Zoetrope Sculpture squashes 4 Dimensions into 3

This fascinating project manages to be both something new and something old done in a new way. Artist [Akinori Goto] has used 3D printing to create a sort of frameless zoetrope. It consists of a short animation of a human figure, but the 3D movements of that figure through time are “smeared” across a circular zone – instead of the movements of the figure being captured as individual figures or frames, they are combined into a single object, in a way squashing 4 dimensions into 3.

zoetrope-1“Slices” of that object, when illuminated by a thin shaft of light, reveal the figure’s pose at a particular moment in time. When the object is spun while illuminated in this way, the figure appears to be animated in a manner very similar to a zoetrope.

There are two versions from [Akinori Goto] that we were able to find. The one shown above is a human figure walking, but there is a more recent and more ambitious version showing a dancer in motion, embedded below.

Since a thin ray of light is used to illuminate a single slice of the sculpture at a time, it’s also possible to use multiple points of illumination – or even move them – for different visual effects. Check out the videos below to see these in action.

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Laser-etched LED zeotrope looks like a circular monochrome screen

The still image of this animated display really doesn’t do it justice. But you can get an idea of how this really does look like an old monochrome display. It’s actually a zeotrope made from LEDs and etched acrylic. The LEDs blink at a rate that synchronizes with the spinning acrylic to produce an animated image.

You probably already know that a zeotrope uses moving physical models to trick the eye into seeing an animation. In this case the models are etched into a piece of acrylic so that their outline glows when the material is edge-lit. Twelve pie piece shaped panes were designed in Inkscape to look like a scene from the Linux game World War IV. A stepper motor spins the ring which allows for the perfect synchronization seen in the clip after the break.

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