Science + Photography = Insane Artwork

Mar 28, 2018 by Lisa Scarpa
12 MIN

Bringing together two extremely different subjects to redefine the definition of art. Swiss scientist/photographer/artist, Fabian Oefner, creates colorful art by applying scientific properties in an effort to bring to attention to the beauty of the natural world and how it works. He is on a mission to make eye-catching art from everyday science. His works have been displayed in various countries around the globe and he has commissioned for many well-known brands such as LG, Tropicana, Ferrari and more. Fabian has made it his goal to bring art and science together.

His art forms are an advocate for new ways to accept that art and science do not exist on opposite ends of the academic spectrum. Science has a very rational approach to its surroundings and art has a very emotional approach to its surroundings. He brings these together to be able to speak to his audience's heart and brain in one presentation. From capturing tiny colored crystals reacting to the vibrations of sounds to mixing ferrofluid with water paint to create unimaginable artwork, always trying to link those 2 fields together.

“His explorations into the ephemeral poetry of time and the natural world stop us, allowing us to see the invisible while provoking us to wonder about the myriad magical moments we do not see, while never considering the artist’s process that created them.” 

At a young age, Oefner has already had the prestige of speaking at a TEDx event.


Take the time to read, reflect and relish on the work this art driven scientist has divulged for the world to see and feel! 

Oil Spill

“For this experiment, Oefner poured water into a black reservoir. With the aid of a syringe, he then added small drops of oil onto the water surface. Upon contact with the water, the oil started to expand and form into magnificent structures. Some of them seem to look like stars exploding, others look like a photograph of the iris. The various colors result from the reflection and refraction of light, as it passes through the oil film and back into the camera lens. Depending on how thick the oil film is, the colors change from blue, green to red, until finally, they disappear again.”




“The shapes, you see in these images are only about the size of a thumbnail. They are created with the aid of a very peculiar material: ferrofluid. This liquid has a very unique property. It is magnetic, caused by the millions of nano iron particles in it. When put under a magnetic field, the particles in the solution start to rearrange due to the attraction and repulsion of iron. If now watercolors are added to the ferrofluid, the pop-art looking structures start to appear, forming into black channels and tiny ponds filled with rainbow-colored surfaces. The reason why the black ferrofluid and the watercolors don’t mix is that ferrofluid is, just like oil, hydrophobic. It, therefore, doesn’t mix with the watercolors. At the same time, it is held in position by the magnet underneath it. So it tries to find a way around the watercolors and therefore forms these black channels.”



Dancing Colors

"How does sound look like? How can you make it visible? These were the two questions, that I tried to answer with this project. Physically speaking, sound is always a vibration, whether it is the song of a nightingale, the sound of a piano or the human voice. It moves in waves, by the compression and rarefaction of the air molecules. Once the wave reaches our ear, our brain transforms it back into a noise, a melody, etc. Now, I was thinking, how can I turn this audible signal, the wave, into a visual signal. I came up with a very simple, yet effective method: I mounted a thin plastic foil on top of the membrane of a common loudspeaker. I then added hundreds of colorful, tiny crystals onto the foil. Every time now that I would play a sound through the speaker, the vibration caused by that sound will make the crystals to jump up and down, forming into these peculiar looking forms and figures you see in the images. Depending on the frequency, pitch and volume of the tone, the figures change their appearance. So now, the audible signal, the sound wave, has transformed into a visual signal, the shapes you see on the images  of Dancing Colors…sound has become visible."

Commissioned for LG: 



“Most of us remember playing with soap bubbles in our childhood, when we were fascinated by the colors of them and therefore even more disappointed when the bubble all of a sudden disappeared again. With this series of images, I was trying to capture the beauty of these short-lived sculptures. When looking at them right after their creation, floating through the air, they almost look like a planet orbiting in space. As if they would be there forever. But already a few seconds later, when the bubble starts to burst and their presence is gone, you get a very different impression of that ephemeral object. It is intriguing how photography enables you to stop time for a moment and save it forever. I think that’s what the series ultimately is about. Preserving time."

The Shootout

“These images were created with the aid of an air gun. The cans were placed in a small studio assembly and then shot from the right side. To capture the very moment, where the projectile hits the can, a microphone was connected to several custom-made high-speed flashes. As soon as the gun triggered, the micro caught that sound and sent an electronic impulse to the flashes to trigger them.“


Paint in motion

"Inspired by a photograph of Jackson Pollock at work, it was the artist`s ambition to capture the fleeting moment of paint in motion, ultimately making the process of creation tangible through a photograph. Although the images are made with different forces such as centrifugal force, pneumatics or gravity, they all display structures of ephemeral beauty, lasting only for a couple of milliseconds."


Vanishing Beauty

"What seems to be a cotton blossom, at first sight, is a very short-lived structure in reality. It is a bursting balloon filled with corn starch. For a tiny amount of time, the starch still keeps the shape of the balloon, forming this blossom-like structure, before it collapses."


The Path of Light

"In close collaboration with optics specialists at Nikon, Oefner created a data sculpture, that visualizes the light passing through a Nikon lens. The work is made up of eight metallic rings, each one accurately representing a lens element, at which light is bent inside the lens. Dozens of electroluminescent wires are lead along with the rings, creating an optical path. When exhibited in a black room, all that the viewer can see are the glowing paths of light traveling through space."


The Visualisation of Speed

"Fabian Oefner recently visited Ferrari’s headquarters in Maranello to interpret the latest Ferrari Grand Tourer, the 2015 California T as an art form through his eyes. The resulting video is an exploration of the essence of the California T. It encapsulates the pillars of purposeful design and perpetual innovation that are constants in the creation of all of Ferraris. Oefner was responsible for developing the idea, directing the video and preparing a show car presented during the 60 Years Celebration of Ferrari in the USA."


L’art du Fruit

"Using more than 60 different cameras, high-speed robots, and exploding pineapples, raspberries and kiwis, Fabian Oefner has directed a unique perspective on the creation of fruit juice. Oefner was responsible for writing the script and directing the commercial."

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