The flip of a switch. The bounce of a spring. The collapse of a tower of blocks. If you know where to look, everyday life is filled with hidden physics–the small dramas of masses, volumes, and inertias.
Through the work of Japanese artist and designer Daihei Shibata, we get a glimpse of how these moments chart out on graph paper. His short Unendurable Line, created for the Japanese TV program Design Ah and featured on Kottke, recasts the most plebeian of tasks into lovingly rendered line graphs celebrating “thresholds,” or the moments between one state of an object and another. “It expresses how things change from A to B when a parameter exceeds a certain value,” Shibata writes on Vimeo.
To create the graphs, Shibata measures the objects in use with pressure and rotation sensors once. Then he re-films the task without the sensors. The rest of what you see is careful, editing magic, to align the data with the video as perfectly as possible.
However, all the work was worth it. After two minutes, I can guarantee you’ll never look at flipping the light switch the same way again.