The Story Behind Slow Dance

When my closest friend from college Eric was marrying my new friend Emily, I considered it the time to give them a once-in-a-lifetime gift. They were both dancers, and so I immediately thought about creating something where two ‘opposites’ danced with one another.

I had been playing for years with techniques that allowed me to use high-speed stroboscopy to make things look like they were moving in slow motion. But after weeks of hand-designing dozens of objects that might vibrate in interesting ways, I was stuck — none of them had the wondrous impact I was searching for. Somehow they didn’t surprise me enough as a viewer to create impact. I went for a frustrated walk around the block of my office thinking “What is missing? Why can’t I design something that looks incredible to see moving in slow motion?” Lost in thought, a branch hit me in the face. I looked at the branch.

It was a Eureka moment. That pine branch was more beautiful than anything I as a person could design, and had evolved over millions of years to vibrate in the wind. I looked all around the environment — branches, flowers, feathers and more — with a sense of awe suddenly realizing that nature had designed millions of artifacts more beautiful than I ever would. And using what I knew, I could make them look like they were dancing impossibly, in slow motion.