3D-printed zoetrope spins to create a stunning moving picture

Whether it is virtual reality, robotics, or artificial intelligence, a lot of the cool tech we cover here at Digital Trends is on the cutting edge of what’s possible, circa 2017. A new art project by renowned U.K. artist Mat Collishaw takes a slightly different tact, however, by merging tech that could have existed 200 years ago with the latest in 3D printing technology.

The result is a 3D-printed zoetrope called “The Centrifugal Soul,” an elaborate three-dimensional model which uses a combination of 60 rpm rotations and flashing strobe lights to create the illusion of movement. The zoetrope depicts a 1-second loop — 18 separate frames in all — depicting wild flowers blooming and colorful birds flapping their wings. Think of it as a Victorian-era GIF — with a bit of modern day additive manufacturing thrown in for good measure!

“The only way of getting that animation millimeter-accurate is to 3D print it,” 51-year-old Collishaw told Wired in an interview. Despite using the technology, though, he said that he’s “not really a tech person” and uses his distrust of technology to add an element of tension to his work. “It’s good to use a medium I’m suspicious of,” he continued.

The Centrifugal Soul is currently on display at London’s Blain Southern.

But this isn’t the end of Collishaw’s deep dive into the world of Victorian technology, combined with the latest emerging tech. Next up, Mat Collishaw is set to debut a virtual reality project, based on the world’s first major photography exhibition, which took palace in 1839.

Called “Thresholds,” the work will recreate that exhibition in painstaking VR detail, thanks to the technical expertise of London-based CGI firm VMI Studio and doctoral students hailing from the University of Nottingham. Thresholds will debut at Photo London on May 18, before travelling to other cities in the United Kingdom.

More of this sort of thing, please! Let’s hope it comes to the United States next.