This Dizzying Zoetrope Turns a Spinning Flatscreen Into a 3D Light Show

Zoetropes are nearly as old as civilization—the first one was invented in 180 AD—but this is an entirely new spin (so to speak) on the same basic concept. This flatscreen monitor spins at such high speeds that our eyeballs are tricked into perceiving the two-dimensional animations playing on its surface as 360 degree figures.

The project was built by Lausanne University of Art and Design student Benjamin Muzzin, for his thesis project in media and UX design. It's a fairly simple (and fairly dangerous?) setup. Two monitor are mounted back to back on a rod attached to a stabilizing frame—below it, a motor spins the rod and the screen itself kicks into gear. At high speeds, the 2D shapes seem 3D, no matter where you're standing in relation to the screen—taking advantage of a phenomenon called "persistence of vision" in which our eyes fill in the gaps as an object moves at high speeds. Muzzin explains:

With this project I wanted to explore the notion of the third dimension, with the desire to try to get out of the usual frame of a flat screen. For this, my work mainly consisted in exploring and experimenting a different device for displaying images, trying to give animations volume in space. The resulting machine works with the rotation of two screens placed back to back, creating a three-dimensional animated sequence that can be seen at 360 degrees. Due to the persistence of vision, the shapes that appear on the screen turn into kinetic light sculptures.

It's unclear if he has any plans to replicate the process in the future, though these days he heads up a company that makes motion graphics for live music called Dazzle Studio. Which is appropriate, since we're thoroughly dazzled by this video. [CreativeApplications]