Perspective Matters
March 7, 2012 5:44 AM   Subscribe

"Magic Angle Sculpture": John V. Muntean creates intricate carvings of wood which, at first glance, can be difficult to discern or understand, but when a light is applied, the shadows they cast create several different images based on their orientation.

"As a scientist and artist, I am interested in the how perception influences our theory of the universe. A Magic Angle Sculpture appears to be nothing more than an abstract wooden carving, skewered with a rod and mounted on a base. However, when lit from above and rotated at the magic angle (54.74º) it will cast three alternating shadows. Every 120º of rotation, the amorphous shadows evolve into independent forms. Our scientific interpretation of nature often depends upon our point of view. Perspective matters."

Dancers - video
Singing in the Rain - video
Evolution - video
posted by quin (11 comments total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
Eternal golden braid.
posted by scrowdid at 5:49 AM on March 7, 2012 [4 favorites]

I first saw this work mentioned the other day, in an askme answer.
posted by blaneyphoto at 5:50 AM on March 7, 2012

I suppose these are by their nature very visually oriented, but they inspire a real desire to pick them up and handle them.
posted by Segundus at 6:13 AM on March 7, 2012

Wholly impressive, but the explanation makes them out to be a lot more "mystical" and "confusing" than they really are. It's just a sculpture which has 3 distinct silhouettes depending on whether you view it from the X, Y, or Z axis. See his 2 4 8 sculpture for a very obvious example.

That the "magic angle" is 54.74 degrees instead of 45 degrees just means he's incorporated a bit of skew to the process to make it a bit more confusing to the casual observer.
posted by explosion at 6:13 AM on March 7, 2012

Is there no widely-accepted name for these? As scrowdid alludes, most of us first saw these as the cover of GEB.
posted by vacapinta at 6:21 AM on March 7, 2012

In a similar vein, metal shadow sculptures from Larry Kagan, professor and former Chairman of the Art Department at Rennsselaer Polytech in upstate New York.
posted by Dean358 at 6:44 AM on March 7, 2012

scrowdid: "Eternal golden braid"

Without even clicking, that was my exact mental monologue.
posted by notsnot at 7:00 AM on March 7, 2012

but when a light is applied, the shadows they cast create several different images based on their orientation

This made me picture a sculpture which would cast shadows onto itself, interacting with its own shape to produce different images on its surface dependant on the angle of light. I can't imagine how you'd go about making something like that though.
posted by lucidium at 7:49 AM on March 7, 2012 [1 favorite]

I thought this would be about taking a NMR spectrometer capable of measuring solid-state samples and sculpting into something a little less damn frustrating to operate (see : Magic Angle Spinning)
posted by lalochezia at 9:22 AM on March 7, 2012

I just came across an instructable last night, that shows how to make your own.
posted by iloveit at 9:45 AM on March 7, 2012

Reminds me of the digital sundial.
posted by poe at 10:17 AM on March 7, 2012

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