My tiny mind is easily blown, but the latest series from 3D printing design studio Nervous System is pretty darn impressive. The duo that makes up Nervous System has created a variety of 3D printed zoetropes, taking that 19th century animating toy into the 21st century and the 3rd dimension.
The series, titled “Growing Objects”, is made up of a number kinetic sculptures depicting the growth of structures in nature. The pieces are modern versions of the phenakistoscope, zoetrope, and praxinoscope, 19th century toys that acted as early demonstrations of animation. As you’ll see in the video below, 3D printed iterations of these natural structures at each stage in the growing process are quickly spun in front of a strobe light to animate their development. Like their 19th century counterparts, the “Growing Objects” sculptures are interactive, so that the viewer can see the individual steps that make up the animation.
In order, the video includes the following works by the design studio:
1 – hyphae based on how vein networks form in leaves.
2 – laplacian based on how branching crystals grow by dendritic solidification
3 – reaction based on reaction-diffusion, a chemical signalling process that can explain the emergence of dot and stripes patterns on the skins and shells of animals
4 – morphostem based on how differential surface growth shapes the blooming of flowers and ruffling of leaves
The video is only a rough cut, with Nervous System planning on releasing more polished footage of the series after “Growing Objects” returns from a stint at Simons Center for Geometry and Physics at Stonybrook University. Once it returns and possibly goes on to be featured at other exhibitions, I envision it finding a permanent home at the Met or, if Nervous System is feeling generous, my living room. If they don’t want to donate it to my living room, perhaps they, or others, will release some 3D printable files on Thingiverse with a method for constructing 3D printed zoetropes at home.