Automated Drawing With Magnets and Gravity

September 18, 2013 | Andy Cush

Those serene concentric circles you see above–Kouichi Okamoto’s Magnetic Field Record–were created by a magnet, a bottle of ink, and a mobile hanging from the ceiling of an art studio. Wired explains how it works:

A container of black Chinese ink is connected to a skinny arm, with a magnet serving as a counterbalance at the other end. The magnet acts like a compass, setting the whole thing into a gentle spin. As the ink drips a circle on the paper below, that end of the arm gets lighter, with the magnet counterweight pulling the stalk more vertically, resulting in tighter, concentric circles below.

Though magnetism and gravity are constant and therefore theoretically predictable forces, countless confounding variables give the piece an element of indeterminacy. “I like the things which cannot be predicted,” he told Wired. “I wanted to record the chance of an unviewable thing.”