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  • Spinning Type

    May 3, 2011
    Featured on Etapes: Design and Visual Culture

    Spinning objects cause an optical illusion. The frames of a car wheel spin around to forward in a certain speed range and they turn to be running backward when the car accelerates. Also, the spinning fans of a flying helicopter are not even moving in the view of a digital video camera.

    The false impressions of the spinning objects are the error that humans and machines make. And the error could be used for observing visual objects in a unique perspective. Video A shows how the form of Roman characters can be changed when spinning.

    Video A / Audio: Something for Windy by Bonobo

    Video B

    Spinning set shrinks the graphic into a circle. The inner circle is rotating slower than the edge of the circle. So the graphic which is closer to the center is remained in our sight longer than the outer one. Image A shows the letter ‘I’ and the vertical line turns to a dot in the maximum speed setting. Theoretically, we should be able to see the 3cm radius black circle in the top speed setting because the height of ‘I’ is 6cm. But only the smaller circle is found in the setting because of our visual capability and the process speed. The process of my camera in this experiment, which receives the subject through the lens, digitizes, and saves it in a memory card, is slower than that of human. Therefore, I noticed that the dot in this video recording is smaller than the dot that I actually detected.

    Image A

    This experiment was set under the light box that has two 15 watt fluorescent lamps(Image B). And we can see the spectrum of colors in the spinning ‘W’ in Image C even though the letter is originally in black.

    Image B / Light setting

    Image C / Colors in the spinning ‘W’

    When I finished watching the video composition of the spinning letter ‘A’, I could only remember the video as the one in Image D below. But the actual single frame of the video is like the one in Image E.

    Image D / Pattern of ‘A’ composed by the three frames in a row.

    Image E / The still image of ‘A’ from a single frame.

    As we can see in this experiment, optical illusions can easily be found in our lives. We may not trust what we see as we humans as well as machines create optical mistakes. An absolute observation might not be possible. The imperfect interpretations, however, allow us to discover a whole new perspective of such beautiful graphics.