Few of us have heard of ferrofluids. But, thanks to their magnetic properties, these oily liquids, packed with tiny iron particles, have a number of applications, from sealing computer hard-drives to enhancing medical imaging – and, more recently, their use as an art medium.
Under strong magnetic fields, a ferrofluid will shift its shape to create 3D structures, a trait that has been used by artists such as the Swiss photographer Fabian Oefner, whose hallucinogenic structure here forms part of his 100-strong "Millefiori" series.
How does the viscous black solution become such a kaleidoscopic vision? Oefner places a few drops of the fluid on to a pane of glass no bigger than a thumbnail, with a magnet slung beneath. The magnet gathers and shapes the liquid into channels, like a three-dimensional maze, before Oefner injects a series of watercolours into the mix, and photographs the result.
As any school science teacher will tell you, oil and water don't mix, so the tiny pools of coloured dye are separated from one another by channels of the ferrofluids, creating a 21st-century psychedelic print in the process.
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