Ferrofluid is an inky black magnetic fluid that reacts uniquely to the presence of a magnetic field. It was developed in the 1960s as a liquid rocket fuel that could be propelled towards an intake in a weightless environment. It consists of tiny nanoparticles of metals like hematite or magnetite coated with a substance to keep them from sticking and suspended in a carrier liquid (like water). When a magnetic field is introduced they bounce and move, creating these eerie black spikes!
Artist Eric Mesplé created his “Killing Time” hourglass sculpture using magnetic ferrofluid and a metal skull! The effect is haunting, a modern and scientific take on the ancient “memento mori” theme.
Taken from his site:
“Mesplé explores interactivity in his work by playfully engaging the curiosity of his audience with often assumingly static objects. His life-long experience with foundry techniques including welding, blacksmithing, sculpting and molding grant advancement to his elaborate makings.
His familiarization with the materials and mediums of the more physical realm of sculpture merge with a perpetuating knowledge of technology. Through environmental or individual movements, his technology-mediated work brings viewers to a state of inquisitiveness, sometimes outside of their previous experiences. Mesplé’s strong roots in the foundry are evidenced by impeccable construction while his eye for detail brings a seamlessness to his innovations.”
Here’s a video of one of the tests for his finished sculpture below.
Below is his equally eerie “Absolution” sculpture that also makes use of the ferrofluid. It’s rigged so the fluid rises only along certain parts of the tortured seeming skull, rising eerily to points and swirling around it like something from a dark fantasy novel!