Art and Science Microfluidics
Scientific Advisor Patrick Tabeling and Fabrice Monti, MMS laboratory, ESPCI.
Design of the projection system and furniture Adrien Bonnerot
As part of the Reflective Interaction/EnsadLab program
(Research laboratory of the National School of Decorative Arts).
With the support of Paris 1 Panthéon Sorbonne and PSL
Traffic aims to project the image of matter in motion, as if it were a film. A circuit containing a fluid, the channels of which are the size of a hair, is in an optical projection system and its image is magnified a hundred times. Drops, immiscible, pass through these channels like so many data units in an analog continuum. Their shapes are perfect and their movement very regular because the fluid is laminar at these dimensions. Operations of division or inclusion between the drops take place before our eyes, evoking in their regularity the visuals of early computer games. The circulation of the drops which continues without end gives a digitized image of the fluid. It is the particular design of the circuit in which they circulate that allows operations to be carried out on the drops, in a dynamic relationship between form and matter.
The device invented for the occasion, an apodiscope*, makes it possible to simultaneously see the same object according to two disjoint scales of magnitude. A kind of parallax vision, the change of position of the observer in space being replaced by a change of position on the scale of dimensions. It offers an off-centered vision, able to switch between macroscopic subjectivity (which we see very small) and mesoscopic discovery (which we see very large, projected on the wall). The liquid matter is totally mastered there. The enlargement system does not use any digital capture system. Contrary to the binocular vision of a microscope which only opens onto the field observed at two points, with very reduced dimensions in space, the magnified image covers the field of vision of the viewer's space, which is finds it enveloped.
The experience of perception that is offered is split, the attention being as much focused on the original object as on its enlarged image. The relationships that are created between the two – discovering in large all that is happening in tiny in strokes the size of a hair – can constitute a sensitive knowledge that is established in an iterative way. The readjustment that takes place gradually from our perception of the facts is part of a learning process. The birth also of the intuition that very small actions are hidden in the interstices of matter.