Artists Sachiko Kodama and Yasushi Miyajima create magnificently surreal kinetic sculptures where a liquid filled with nanoscale ferromagnetic particles flows, rotates, and shapeshifts around a simple iron tower structure in response to shifts in a magnetic field. The piece is titled "Morpho Towers – Two Standing Spirals" (2006-2007). From the project description:
This technique uses one electromagnet, and its iron core is extended and sculpted. The ferrofluid covers the sculpted surface of a three-dimensional iron shape that was made on an electronic NC lathe. The movement of the spikes in the fluid is controlled dynamically on the surface by adjusting the power of the electromagnet. The shape of the iron body is designed as helical so that the fluid can move to the top of the helical tower when the magnetic field is strong enough.Link to the YouTube video, Link to the Morpho Towers project page (Thanks, Mike Love!)
The surface of the tower responds dynamically to its magnetic environment. When there is no magnetic field, the tower appears to be a simple spiral shape. But when the magnetic field around the tower is strengthened, spikes of ferrofluid are born; at the same time, the tower’s surface dynamically morphs into a variety of textures ranging from soft fluid to minute moss, or to spiky shark’s teeth, or again to a hard iron surface. The ferrofluid, with its smooth, black surface that seems to draw people in, reaches the top of the tower, spreading like a fractal, defying gravity.
David Pescovitz is Boing Boing's co-editor/managing partner. He's also a research director at Institute for the Future. On Instagram, he's @pesco.