Saturday 6 May 2017

Stanford Professor Uses Math to Create Hypnotic 'Neverending Bloom'

Artist Uses Golden-Ratio to Create Animated Sculptures

John Edmark has amused people the world over with his 3D printed sculptures that come to life under strobe lighting while being spun on a turntable. His range of expertise covers many things including art, photography and mathematics while he is also a design lecturer at Stanford University in California. He combined a number of his skill sets to produce the hypnotic never-ending bloom.

He calls it ‘bloom’ because it gives the illusion of a repeatedly blooming flower which is a result of complex mathematics and well-timed photography. He has used a 3D printer to model the sculpture using precise measurements and photographed the process using a camera with a very high shutter speed. The final effect is that of a hypnotic infinitely blooming movement (never-ending bloom).


The design of the sculpture was inspired by naturally occurring objects that exhibit the golden ratio in their structure like flower petals, pinecones, seed heads, branches of trees, sea shells, fruits and vegetables like pineapples and artichokes and even hurricanes.

The golden ratio is formed by dividing a line into two parts so that the entire length divided by the longer part is equal to the longer part divided by the smaller part. Edmark recreates the Fibonacci series found often in nature by placing the leaves on his blooms approximately 137.5 degrees around each other. 137.5 degree is a very special angle known as the golden angle which is calculated from the golden ratio.

He starts positioning the leaves of the sculptures one by one beginning from the top of the center. But he also breaks the rules sometimes to slightly alter the positions of a few leaves which creates a dizzying distorted effect. The designer used Python in RhinoScript to code the design for the model. It was then 3D printed on a ZPrinter 450.


A turntable was built for the model to be placed on. It was then attached to a motor that powered the turntable to rotate at 550 revolutions per minute. The exact rotation speed was carefully calculated so that the turntable could be synchronized with the camera filming the movement. A camera with a fast shutter speed was placed in front of the turntable to capture videos at 24 fps.

These precise settings made sure that the video would capture each frame while a leaf turned exactly 137.5 degrees resulting in the effect of the never-ending bloom. A strobe light was fitted above the bloom which emitted a strobe at exactly the same time the camera took photographs, for an enhanced effect. The different elements put together to create this mesmerizing effect had to work in a perfect sync to produce the ultimate smooth and effortless motion.

Final Result

The final result of the never-ending bloom is completely hypnotizing almost inducing a slight vertigo. The innovative intermingling of art and mathematics could only be the brainchild of John Edmark, an artist with such dynamic prowess. His work is displayed in art galleries and museums around the globe.

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