Water Sculpture

January 28th, 2007 § 1 comment


Back in the summer of 1981 I was living in a sublet – Headcamp! – on John Street in Ann Arbor. Several of us residents – among them, Steve Osburn and Tim Twiss – were out in the driveway with glasses of water, tossing the water into the air and catching it, over and over, looking at the incredible 3D shapes dancing in the sun.

Such incredible potential, hamstrung by Earth’s gravitational field…

What if we could do water sculpture in free fall?

We’re on the space station. We’ve mixed water with enough of some electrically charged substance to render the resulting mixture (or perhaps ion) magnetically manipulatable. A sphere of electrically charged water hangs in free fall, suspended in a local magnetic field.

We play music on a keyboard. The music is converted by computer into a manipulation of the magnetic field. The sphere of water is sculpted by the music. The water’s shape changes. The musician dances with the water dances with the music.

We are doing real–time musical water sculpture. Lights could also be controlled by the algorithm. Or we could use the sun for light, just like on John Street.

I think this is doable, either on Earth or in space, or, to somewhat lesser effect, in a computer with 3D graphics. Of course, one could also manipulate the water with a recording of the Moonlight Sonata or A Day in the Life or Bitches Brew

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