Magnets in art (and design)

Ever since magnetism was discovered thousands of years ago, people have been fascinated by it. And of course we are, anyone who has played with magnets and felt the magnetism knows that it is a special force; an invisible, powerful and almost magical force.

Which makes it perfect for art, where the artists can explore freely and create and visualize concepts in ways that not only looks cool; it makes us think.

Below I have collected some examples of art based on magnetism.

Measuring Space #6 Variation 2, 2013 by Eske Rex Oak, maple, leash, magnets 22 √ó 7.5 cm

“Measuring Space #6 Variation 2″, 2013 by Eske Rex
Oak, maple, leash, magnets
22 √ó 7.5 cm

A popular theme is to play the magnetic force against gravity.

In the piece by Eske Rex above, the magnetic force cancels out the gravitational force, and we get what looks like zero gravity.
Bruce Gray‚Äôs ‚ÄúSuspension‚ÄĚ, below, is based on a similar idea, however there is a sense of motion to this piece.

"Suspension", by Bruce Gray.

“Suspension”, by Bruce Gray.

Wooden Box with Horseshoe Magnet, 2006 by Caleb Charland.

Wooden Box with Horseshoe Magnet, 2006 by Caleb Charland.

The concept is taken to an extreme in Caleb Charlands¬†sculpture above. The observer is a bit puzzled by how the heavy magnet can stay in that position, without anything physically keeping it in place, except the magnetism, which flow lines are symbolized by strings, but are more correctly visualized in ‚ÄúMagnetic Fields II‚ÄĚ below.


"Magnetic Fields II", 2014 by Caleb Charland

“Magnetic Fields II”, 2014 by Caleb Charland

350 points towards infinity, 2009, by Tatiana Trouve Plumb, magnets

350 points towards infinity, 2009, by Tatiana Trouve
Plumb, magnets

The last one on the theme is the piece by Tatiana Trouve, above. Also here the objects seem to not be in equilibrium, which almost settles one in unrest.

Magnetism has also been used for moving artworks, like the video (click here or on the image) below by Kaplamino, who used marbles and magnets to make a Rube Goldberg machine.




Finally, two examples where magnetism has been used for interior design products. A levitating bonsai tree, and a ferrofluid clock (click on the images).

Air Bonsai by Japanese company Hoshinchu

Air Bonsai by Japanese company Hoshinchu

Ferrolic, by Zelf Koelman

Ferrolic, by Zelf Koelman

Research focused on rare earth elemants is HOT!

Last month the 10th edition of the famous international conference of Molten slags, fluxes and salts took place in Seattle, Washington, USA. This conference is organized every 4 years by TMS. It is a leading conference for sharing process and mechanistic knowledge in high-temperature processing. This time the focus lay in the field of extractive metallurgy and development of novel materials.

Surprisingly, a lot of presentations were focused on rare earth elements. Investigations varied from recycling possibilities, to thermodynamic studies and molten salt researches. It s very obvious that Rare Earth researches are finding their way into the spotlights and are definitely becoming a force to be reckoned with.

Some examples from presentations are:

  • Electrochemical Recycling of Batteries using Molten oxides and Salts (Zhang Z. et al., Peking University)
  • In situ observation of Rare earth containing precipitated phase crystallization and solidification of CaO-SiO2-Nd2O3 and CaO-SiO2-Nd2O3-P2O5 Melts (Le T.H., KULeuven)
  • Techniques for measuring solubility and electrical conductivity in molten salts (Su S., Boston University)
  • Surface properties of molten fluoride-based salts (T. Villalon, Boston University)
  • etc.