With four finished degrees from MIT (BS: Physics, Math, MS: Mech. Engineering, Media Arts and Sciences), scientist and engineer Jeff Lieberman knows a thing or two about –– well, a lot of things. As the host of the TV show ‘Time Warp’ on the Discovery Channel, his interest in the human consciousness took him down a long road exploring events that happen too quickly for the naked eye to register using state-of-the-art camera equipment and editing techniques.
It is somewhere along that same road of exploring the art of bending time where Lieberman conceived of his latest –– and perhaps most ambitious –– project to date: a picture frame that appears to slow down time in real-time.
For Slow Dance, Lieberman tapped into the same editing techniques and camera work that made the content of his TV show so mesmerizing to watch to make random objects move in such a way that they appear to be controlled by slowed down time.
“By taking advantage of the limits of human visual perception, this optical illusion sculpture appears to be doing the impossible — right before your eyes,” explains Lieberman. “Slow Dance combines technology, science, and art, in order to remind us of the natural mystery, beauty, and wonder that surround us every day.”
While recording something using state-of-the-art camera technology and manipulating the footage is one thing, creating the same effect in the physical universe is an entirely different beast that taps into a phenomenon called persistence of vision.
Using high-speed strobe lights blinking 80 times a second (faster than the naked human eye is capable of seeing), the picture frame creates the visual illusion of the objects moving in slow motion. When combined with various timing manipulations to the strobe lights, the objects appear to jump into new positions near–instantaneously. The resulting visual spectacle really does appear as if time has stood still within the four walls of the picture frame.
“This piece is a metaphor for all the unseen aspects of reality that are affecting us all the time,” adds Lieberman. “It expresses a desire to remind me, and anyone who uses it, that there is something beyond what we see with our senses — that there is this entire reality beyond human comprehension.”
Over two years in development (and originally conceived of as a wedding present for his best friend), Lieberman is putting Slow Dance on Kickstarter to give everybody else the opportunity to slow down time, too.
Early bird specials for Slow Dance will be offered as low as $199, with shipping expected in early 2017.