About this project
You shouldn't believe your eyes!
“Slow dance” is a picture frame that makes real objects appear to move in slow motion. By taking advantage of the limits of human visual perception, this optical illusion sculpture appears to be doing the impossible — right before your eyes. Slow Dance combines technology, science, and art, in order to remind us of the natural mystery, beauty, and wonder that surround us every day.
Watch the following video to learn about how this project went from wedding gift to manufactured sculpture, why this work is important to me and how I got involved with it.
A TESTAMENT TO BEAUTY
It’s like nothing you’ve ever seen in real life. It looks like a picture frame, except that there’s no picture and no glass — instead, two clips hold objects inside the frame. Plug in Slow Dance and see the magic for yourself.
The sculpture quiets the mind with an unexpected beauty that appears right in front of us, lowering our stress, and helping our attention become completely present. As far as we've found, it is the easiest way to meditate. It literally reminds us to slow down.
AN ONGOING EXPERIMENT IN WONDER
Play and experiment! YOU bring the objects to Slow Dance — it is a blank canvas for you to compose. From weeds on the street to flowers in the garden to bird feathers, each object will reveal a new slow motion world. After two years of playing with it ourselves, we are still enchanted when we try out a new object — the world it reveals seems to be never-ending. It will change how you will see plants and other objects forever.
Different modes allow you to cycle through different dance patterns, some slow and smooth, and others that make the object appear to jump through space!
"Slow Dance” is made from a 2” pine wood frame. The pine shows the elegance and beauty of the wood grain, while being exceptionally sturdy. Two springs hold objects in the frame, lit from recessed LED lighting.
HOW IS THIS POSSIBLE?
Strobe lights are nothing new. From the photos of Edwaerd Muybridge to the photos of Doc Edgerton, extremely fast strobe lights have been helping us to see into fast motions. On a dancefloor, strobe lights turn us into stop motion animations. But we’ve put strobe light to use in a different fashion.
By using high speed strobe lights blinking 80 times a second, your eyes cannot even see that they are blinking — the light looks continuous. By synchronizing the strobes to the high-speed vibration of objects (feathers, branches, flowers, etc), we create the visual illusion of those objects moving in slow motion. This is a phenomenon called persistence of vision, and works similarly to the way a TV works — by flickering frozen images quickly enough that we perceive them as continuous motion.
For more information check out this Mr. Wizard video about persistence of vision!
By varying the timing of the strobe lights, it's possible to make the objects look like they move in impossible ways — moving in slow motion, jumping discretely to new positions instantaneously, and more. The objects can even be touched, and appear to be moving in slow motion despite the user’s interaction.
SLOW DANCE LIMITED EDITION
We have been working for over 9 months with our manufacturing firm, who has manufactured multiple previous successful Kickstarter campaigns, including the original Makey Makey. They have received two of our prototypes and have already sent us prototypes designed for large-scale manufacturing.
- Jan 2015: First prototype/gift made
- Mar 2015: First discussions with manufacturers
- Oct 2015: First prototypes sent to China
- March 2016: Receipt of manufacturable prototypes from China, testing, iteration
- Aug 2016: Kickstarter campaign
- Sept/Oct 2016: Tooling and design of final production version, and finalize packaging.
- Nov/Dec 2016: Creation of first production run, assembly, and manufacturing.
- Feb 2017: Shipping, fulfillment, product delivery to backers.
- Slow Dance crafted pine frame with two starter feathers
- Two stabilizer feet
- Wall mounting hook + screw
- Extra rubber bands for object mounting
THE SLOW DANCERS
The Slow Dance team brings together backgrounds from MIT to the forests of Maine, from robotics and graphic design to meditation, music, and painting.
Jeff Lieberman explores the connections between the arts, sciences, education, creativity, and consciousness. He hosted 'Time Warp' on the Discovery Channel, using technology to see beyond the limits of our normal human perception. He shows technological sculptures around the world, to bring people an emotional and mystical connection with science and the universe. Having finished four degrees at MIT (BS: Physics, Math, MS: Mech. Engineering, Media Arts and Sciences), he is exploring the applications of technology to evolving and shifting human consciousness. He wants beauty, wonder, and love in your life, now!
Risks and challenges
We have been working with our manufacturers for almost a year on making Slow Dance robust and manufacturable. Kinks have been worked out and specifications agreed to, and currently the only remaining items are the final packaging and wood finishing options, which cannot be fully specified until we move forward with tooling. We don't anticipate any problems but will remain diligent in keeping things on time and up to specification.
Also, this is not our first rodeo — we ran a successful Kickstarter campaign in 2012 which became one of the top Sculpture projects on KickStarter called "Moore Pattern", and shipped hundreds of kinetic sculptures around the world, so you can trust in our service and ability to deliver. Our day job is making large-scale installation artwork which we've been doing for almost ten years, so this is something we are very comfortable with. See more of that work at http://bea.st .Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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