A Mesmerizing Photographic Ode To The Circle

Everyone’s favorite round shape gets re-imagined in milk, sugar, paint, bubbles, glitter, and smoke.

“One of the main theories why perfect circles cannot exist in reality is due to outside influences like gravity, or the irregular texture of the surface the shape is projected onto,” Thomas Brown tells Co.Design. The London-based photographer teamed up with set designers and prop makers Anna Fulmine and Victoria Shahrokh of Lightning + Kinglyface to play with the inconsistency of precision through a series of stunning, and entirely temporal, tableaus. “We wanted to experiment with the idea that the pursuit of absolute perfection would only end in failure–but it was the failure we were really striving for, in terms of beauty and aesthetics,” he says of 2-(y-b)2 = r2 (guess the equation), the resulting series that sees rounds emerging–and fading–in a whole host of mediums and materials.


Each frame represents a fleeting moment in the life of an orb made in everything from milk to paint, and establishing the shots just so was a singular challenge. “The proposed circle may only exist in front of the camera for a fraction of a second before it becomes something else entirely. We had to capture it at just the right moment,” Brown says. “It was important that the images had the organic feeling of process and action; by bringing time and chance into the equation we draw further attention to the fragility of absolute perfection.”

In order to construct the creative scenes, the trio pared down a rather long list of ideas into a collection that achieved the effect they were after. “We started with a list of materials and processes that we wanted to try and worked through them,” Brown says. “There were lots of ideas that worked in our heads but never quite communicated what we wanted to say, and some that we just tried on the off-chance that became our favorites.” And which were those, in the end? Brown admits to enjoying the smoke rings the most, which was “all done in camera and took a few attempts,” he says. “I had to open the shutter at the right point as well, and it was very tricky to get the angle, speed, density of the smoke just right.” Fulmine and Shahrokh are partial to the glitter pic, which took a few attempts to get the perfect density in each drop. (And for what it’s worth, I’m into the bubble.)

The team hopes that those who see 2-(y-b)2 = r2 appreciate its beauty, but also get a bit of a boost from the endeavor. “We’d like the viewer to get a sense of fun that we had whilst completing the shots,” Brown says. Mission accomplished!

(H/T It’s Nice That)