Using Innovative Paint Splashes & High Speed Photography for Stunning Results

What happens when you give an artistic scientist a camera? Fabian Oefner, who we featured in a previous article, shows us in this peek into his studio in northwestern Switzerland:

A self-described scientist, photographer, and artist, Oefner bases his projects around natural phenomena, which he tries to depict poetically. One of his inspirations is Jackson Pollock. Oefner was intrigued by Pollock’s process, rather than the finished product, so in his own work, he focuses on the process itself, combining art with science. He is fascinated by the way paint pours onto a canvas and how he can manipulate the paint with various natural forces.


He’s constantly looking at how things work to inspire his many projects with science and color. The video features three series: Black Hole, Liquid Jewel, and Orchid.


For Black Hole, he dropped paint onto the end of a drill to capture what happens to the paint when the drill begins to spin. He connected a flash to the other end of the drill. A flash fired as the drill began to turn. The final images let us see scientific phenomena frozen in time.


The images for Liquid Jewel are the result of applying paint to air-filled balloons and photographing the balloons at the moment they were popped with a pin. Amidst the interesting shapes formed by the piercing of the balloons, you can see the paint colors begin to blend in mid-air.


The final series, Orchid, focused on gravity’s effect on paint. For these images, Oefner pointed a camera down at a pan of wet paint and dropped objects into the pan to create a splash. His flash was triggered by a microphone so that it would fire each time an object fell into the paint. Beautiful, orchid-shaped forms were his reward.


Just like any scientific endeavor, each of Fabian Oefner’s projects requires hours of planning, experimentation, and innovative thinking. For all of his work on these series, Oefner is left with just twelve images that he’s chosen through his trial and error process. He took thousands of images in order to get the photographs he visualized in his head. And when this scientist shares his amazing artwork, viewers are awed by the intricacies of the world around us.

“Being an artist, for me, means understanding the world more clearly and also passing on the kind of understanding that you have about the world–passing it on to others.”

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