2D to 3D – Giving an object life

One of the concepts behind my Ferrofluid idea is giving an object a life from converting 2D to 3D. Starting with the physical reason for wanting to use a free-standing installation rather than digital images on a screen. My approach to my work is more hands on, therefore I feel more comfortable and enjoy working with physical objects rather than objects on a screen.

In recent years there has been a phenomenon in the use of 3D. From making 2D films into 3D, 3D projection mapping and 3D printing more recently. From this it is clear that audiences enjoy the extra dimension that brings things to life, making images or objects more tactile and more for the user/audience, rather than simply for the screen. From the Brandwatch 3D Films Report (2011), quotes from twitter talking about the use of 3D in films show that people feel like 3D is closer to a real life experience, such as one person saying “I can’t wait to see Johnny Depp in 3D”, as though they feel like they would be close to him or maybe even get to engage with him in a life-like environment. I feel this is what it is also like for 3D mapping – ‘VJing’ (Video DJ) companies use it in live music environments to create a complete surround viewing and listening experience for the audience. 3D projection mapping has also been used for advertising purposes such as when Adidas used it for their ‘Adidas is all in’ campaign:


One of the main reasons 3D artwork and installation work is so popular and interesting is because it “takes into account the viewer’s entire sensory experience, rather than floating framed points of focus” (Modern, c.a. 2006). The audience can use numerous senses within installation and 3D art, depending on the type of design. This is why I have chosen to use installation art for my interactive design. Installations are said to be “more experimental and bold” and “they are also usually cross media and may involve sensors, which plays on the reaction to the audiences’ movement when looking at the installations.” (Modern, c.a. 2006). This is they reasoning behind me wanting to use a sensor as it only involves the audiences movement to make something happen within the installation, hopefully meaning that more people will interact and engage with it.

The Tate Modern article also links installation art and theatre together, suggesting they are both played for a viewer who is “expected to be at once immersed in the sensory/narrative experience that surrounds him”. Showing that installation art can be seen as an act, that a viewer/user engages with to create the show. This is an idea that I want to portray through my design; that it is an an act or even a dance in which the audience is a viewer as well as a user of the installation and the ferrofluid is like a puppet with the magnet being the puppeteer.

My idea was build on this concept of changing 2D to 3D, by using a free-standing installation rather than a screen, this already brings the object to life. I could have simulated the ferrofluid using Processing and had it on a screen, but I wanted it to be free standing so the audience would have something more physical and tactile. The actual ferrofluid itself also portrays the idea of bringing something to life, as without the magnet it is simply a viscose black liquid. However, when the magnet is underneath it almost as though it comes to life with the growth of the spikes. If there is a lot of movement with the magnet the spikes of fluid can dance, which would make a great installation if set to music.

Overall, I feel that my idea will have character to it and therefore will be interesting to audiences. 3D designs give life to ideas, to create different experiences for audiences. I am looking forward to creating my design and seeing how audiences interact and engage with it.


Adidas, 2011. Adidas France – 3D Mapping Projection [online]. Adidas. Available from: http://vimeo.com/21216142

Brandwatch, 2011. 3D Films Report [online]. Brandwatch, Brighton. Available from: http://www.brandwatch.com/wp-content/uploads/brandwatch/Brandwatch-Example-Report-3D-Films.pdf.

Modern, T. c.a. 2006. Installation Art [online]. Saylor, Arlington. Available from: http://www.saylor.org/site/wp-content/uploads/2011/05/Installation-art.pdf

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