A rare animation experience

As part of my thesis work where I worked to inspire wonder and awe through design, I created Unexpected, an experience that pushed participants to chase a fleeting feeling of astonishment.

Through my research, I found that Philip Fisher in his book Wonder, the Rainbow and the Aesthetics of Rare Experiences outlines the many reasons we feel awe when we look at a rainbow. Two of the causes are:

A rainbow is a rare experience.
Rainbows don’t appear every day and only become visible in very specific weather conditions.

A rainbow works at multiple scales.
Our brains rapidly shift between the two scales of the water droplet creating the prismatic effect to the rainbow across the sky as we skip all other scales at that particular moment.

These became my design principles as I found a parallel between the multiple scales of a rainbow and animation where a fluid illusion of movement is created by its constituent frames.

I constructed a 12' long by 2' diameter stroboscope, and invited participants to use a strobe light app on their phones to try to match the rotational frequency of the device. When the strobe light matched the speed just right, the animation became visible.