Art of Science: As Time Goes Bloop

Ferrolic by Zelf Koelman
Ferrolic by Zelf Koelman

Ferrolic can be filed under “so nice we blogged it twice”, because it is not only cool, but Michele did a much better job of explaining how this works than her erstwhile stand-in did.

From the department of supercool things that may or may not have a point: Ferrolic, a screen display that uses electromagnets and ferrofluid. Created by Dutch designer Zelf Koelman, Ferrolic consists of a sort of tank with a screen, behind which drops of ferrofluid (a compound containing iron and a surfactant) are moved by an array of electromagnets controlled by programmable software.

The software can be edited via the web, allowing users to direct the blobs of ferrofluid (which Koelman calles “creatures”) to display numbers, letters and other shapes. Ferrolic does not produce light and is completely silent, since it does not contain any mechanically moving elements.

So is Ferrolic a work of art, a technology of the future or just an expensive toy? Who knows? But it sure is mesmerizing to watch.

F is for Ferrolic

Ferrolic uses magnets, “Ferro Fluid1“, and the unpredictability/non-intuitive behavior of fluid dynamics2 to tell you the present things like the time in hynoptically beautiful ways.

Because the fluid behaves in an unpredictable way, it is possible to give the bodies, perceived in the Ferrolic display, a strong reference to living creatures. It is this livelihood that enables Ferrolic to show a meaningful narrative such as having the creatures play tag. In addition the natural flow of the material, Ferrolic can be used to form recognisable shapes and written characters. – Ferrolic

1From the Latin words for “iron” and “ewww, that’s damp”.
2Depending on whom you ask.

HT: Rob Beschizza at BoingBoing