London Design Festival: drops of coloured ink fall from the top of a stone staircase into a glass tank six storeys below in this installation at the V&A museum by German artist and designer Rolf Sachs (+ slideshow).
As the drops of primary-coloured ink reach the tank, the splash is amplified in the echoing space by a sensitive underwater microphone – the same kind used in Olympic pools to determine the exact moment swimmers hit the water.
The ink drops reach their terminal velocity in the three and a half seconds it takes for them to fall to the tank, where they create a burst of colour on impact.
"The liquid in the tank is a detergent, and that's why the colour slowly disappears to wait for the arrival of the next drop," Sachs explained at the opening of the installation.
Sachs also noted that the blue drops create a slightly different noise due to the varying concentration of pigment in the ink.
The installation was inspired by the traditional method of making lead shot for ammunition, which involves dropping molten lead from a specific height so that it solidifies into a sphere when plunged into water.
Small monocular telescopes allow visitors to see the drops as they are released from the three tubes at the top of the staircase.
The Journey of a Drop is installed in the Henry Cole Wing Grand Staircase, which has been opened to the public for the first time during this year's London Design Festival.
Other installations at the V&A during the London Design Festival include a visualisation of the city's data streams by Keiichi Matsuda and a series of white metal chairs in various configurations by Nendo.
Dezeen has been reporting from the festival for the past week and we've put together an audio guide featuring interviews with designers including Yves Behar and Tom Dixon.
Photographs are by Susan Smart.
Here's some more information from the V&A:
The Journey of a Drop
An installation by Rolf Sachs at the V&A during London Design Festival 2012
Conceptual designer Rolf Sachs presents a site-specific installation for the V&A’s rarely seen before Henry Cole Staircase. Playfully responding to the museum’s architecture, Sachs creates a visually arresting and emotionally engaging spectacle with the focus on the dramatic drop.
Born from his inherent curiosity and experimental personality, Rolf Sachs invites the observer on a sensory journey. Spectators are drawn into the mysterious performance and a voyage of discovery that beckons the eye upward. From the soaring heights of the atrium, three lab-like instruments individually drop primary coloured ink in measured intervals.
Starting slowly, with scientific precision, each measured drop quickly gains pace. As the speed gathers momentum, the drop becomes more spontaneous in its nature, before falling into the depths and landing into a vast tank of illuminated liquid with unexpected results. On impact the individual drops explode into the liquid creating organic transient clouds of ever changing shapes and colour. Yet once more taken by surprise, the observer sees these clouds mingle and merge until inexplicably disappearing... until the next show. Understated at first glance, the seemingly simple notion of a drop falling has been masterfully designed using finely-tuned machinery and specially developed liquids and pigments.
“As the drops commence their journey, there will be a sense of anticipation, followed by a visual spectacle,” states Sachs.
Intended to touch all the senses, the apparent silent sounds of the drops hitting the water is captured by an underwater microphone and amplified like an echo throughout the space. Encouraging further interaction, binoculars are at hand opposite the tank, to witness the complete journey of the drops from a variety of perspectives, intensifying the connection between the art and the observer.
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