Magnets & Watercolors, Science & Art :: Fabian Oefner

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Fabian Oefner is a Swiss photographer and artist, who combines art and science. He emphasizes ordinary elements of the natural world, by injecting, in this case literally, colors and textures. In his project Millefiori, Oefner combines ferrofluid, a magnetic material, and watercolors. He explains:

The shapes, you see in these image are only about the size of a thumbnail. They are created with the aid of a very peculiar material: ferrofluid.

This liquid has a very unique property. It is magnetic, caused by the millions nano iron particles in it. When put under a magnetic field, the particles in the solution start to rearrange due to the attraction and repulsion of iron. If now water colors are added to the ferrofluid, the pop-art looking structures start to appear, forming into black channels and tiny ponds filled with rainbow colored surfaces. The reason why the black ferrofluid and the water colors don’t mix is that ferrofluid is, just like oil, hydrophobic. It therefore doesn’t mix with the water colors. At the same time it is held in position by the magnet underneath it. So it tries to find a way around the water colors and therefore forms these black channels.

This is really extraordinary. Aside from the technical marvel, what is left to chance artistically is fascinating. In this scenario, rather than intentionally placing the paint in a specific place, he creates the circumstances and environment for the paint to arrange itself.

Click on these images to see them at a larger size.

>> See more of Fabian Oefner’s work at


One thought on “Magnets & Watercolors, Science & Art :: Fabian Oefner

  1. Pingback: your design MUST be abstract/repeat | WHS Graphic Design

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