Magnetic Waltz

Magnetic Waltz is an interactive kinetic sculpture based on ferrofluid (a magnetic liquid). It invites participants to explore the bizarre interplay of magnetics, gravity, and fluid mechanics. The ferrofluid dances and twirls,  forming labrynthian patterns, choreographed via hidden electronically-controlled magnets.

A small prototype version is shown in the video above. We're currently building a larger version, with more interactivity and a beautifully designed retrofuturist 
housing, that will form an installation in deep playa at Burning Man 2017.

The  structure will be fabricated from aluminum and steel. The aluminum will be waterjet cut with filagree patterns featuring symbols from a mysterious alien race... The face of the piece will feature LED-lit jewels that pulse and glow in response to participants' movements. 

Behind the white glass will be a robotic rotary mechanism that animates the ferrofluid via rare earth magnets. A viewing portal will allow curious investigators to peer inside to see how the system works.

Spotlights will be positioned around the piece for nighttime viewing and safety, and hidden speakers will provide music which the pre-programmed choreography will be set to. Integrated cameras and a computer-vision based controller in the front of the piece will track participant movements and respond accordingly.
Unlike electronic displays or LEDs, the fluid exhibits subtle three-dimensionality, reflecting sunlight off the surfaces of the liquid in interesting ways. It is physical and real, yet completely magical at the same time. 


We received a Burning Man Honorarium grant, and support from The Phage camp, which has helped us cover purchase of Aluminum; Hardware & fastners; Stepper motors & electronics.

We have made a lot of progress on the functional mechanical assembly, and are progressing towards integration.  However we need additional funds to help realize the complete vision!

The following is a breakdown of the parts we still have to cover funding:
- custom PCB fabrication ($200)
- extra ferrofluid, suspension fluid ($100)
- custom hardware, o-rings, standoffs ($150)
- laser cut acrylic panels ($150)
- custom water-jet cut glass ($350)
- fabric covering / shroud ($250)
- frame hardware ($300)
- lighting ($250)
- speakers ($100)
- embedded GPU control system + camera ($250)
- generator rental + baffle, cables  ($400)
TOTAL: $2500

The Team:
Frankie Myers - Project lead & creator
Melody Chang - Artistic vision / shroud aesthetic design
Greg Meess - Mechanical Engineering
Tom Bishop - software / control system

help us realize this vision and bring a unique artwork to the playa for all to enjoy and play with!

learn more at
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Organizer and beneficiary

Tom Bishop 
San Francisco, CA
Frank Myers 

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