Fractal Sculptures with Magnetic Ferrofluid

The combination of art and science can have mind-boggling results. Like Ferrofluid which becomes strongly magnetized in the presence of a magnetic field to an extent that it creates 3-dimensional fractal patterns and sculptures. (It is made by dissolving nanoscale ferromagnetic particles in a solvent such as water or oil.)

The liquid has such lovely visual qualities when magnetized, and a Japanese artist, Sachiko Kodama, took advantage of this property to create stunning artwork using ferrofluid and electromagnets. We recommend watching the video that shows bits of this fluid move in synchronization with sound and transform into organic fractal patterns.

The transformation of magnetic fluid is caused by the interaction with environmental sound. The 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 the corresponding electromagnetic voltage which determines the strength of the magnetic field.

This causes the magnetic fluid to change its three-dimensional patterns accordingly.

Art and science sculpture of ferrofluid by Sachiko Kodama
The magic of ferrofluid in the presence of electromagnets, created by Sachiko Kodama

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.

ferrofluid artwork by Sachiko Kodama
Ferrofluid is polarized in the presence of a magnetic field – Protrude by Sachiko Kodama

Ferrofluids are even more flexible than iron sand.

Sachiko Kodama ferrofluid protrude flow
Magnetic fluid pulsates forming 3D fractal patterns synchronized to music
The Art and Science of Ferrofluid
The Art and Science of Ferrofluid
morpho tower ferrofluid artwork
Morpho tower artwork

Adding colour to the other wise dark fluid was photographer Fabian Oefner. In Millefiori, he mixed ferrofluid with water colors and put under a magnetic field, the iron particles in the solution start to rearrange, forming the black channels and separating the water colors from the ferrofluid. As you can see below, the reaction was beautiful.

fabian oefner added water colour to ferro fluid
The iron particles in the solution start to rearrange, forming the black channels and separating the water colors from the ferrofluid

Labyrinth-like colorful patterns emerged.

milliefiori project fabian oefner
Labyrinth like patterns forming on the magnetized ferrofluid

The structures in these photos are only about the size of a thumbnail, but with photography it is possible to magnify such tiny structures or to freeze a moment lasting only in the blink of an eye.

Millefiori. Ferrofluid mixed with watercolours
Millefiori – Ferrofluid mixed with watercolours
ferrofluid mixed with water colours
Colorful patterns emerge after adding colours to Ferrofluid

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