It’s alive!!

As I’ve noted in the past, ferrofluids are both scientifically fascinating and just plain creepy. They have incredibly cool magnetic properties, yet they also look like the black alien oil that possessed people’s bodies in The X-Files.

Now a couple of artists have harnessed the eerie, it’s-alive qualities of ferrofluids to produce some really lovely sculptures. It’s called The Magnetic Fluid Art Project: “Protrude, Flow”, and they describe it thusly:

The sounds in the exhibition place (sounds created by artists, and voices of spectators) are caught by a microphone hanging from the ceiling, and then a computer converts the sound amplitude to electromagnetic voltage which determines the strength of the magnetic field. At the same time, the magnetic fluid changes its three-dimensional patterns sequentially. Each pattern appears synchronized to the environmental sound and the points of the shapes move correspondingly. As a result, magnetic fluid pulsates according to the sound.

Check out the videos online: The ferrofluids move, swarm, and burble like teensy extraterrestrial animals. My faves are “Waves and Sea Urchins” and the eponymous “Protrude, Flow”. It’s still creepy, but it’s at least beautiful creepy.

(Thanks to Tony Blow for this one!)

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I'm Clive Thompson, the author of Smarter Than You Think: How Technology is Changing Our Minds for the Better (Penguin Press). You can order the book now at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Powells, Indiebound, or through your local bookstore! I'm also a contributing writer for the New York Times Magazine and a columnist for Wired magazine. Email is here or ping me via the antiquated form of AOL IM (pomeranian99).

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