Research

Accidental Painting

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Artist D. A. Siqueiros sometimes used a technique he referred to as “accidental painting” in his work, in which he would pour a layer of one color of paint and then pour a second color over it.  The two colors would mix in striking patterns.  Here researchers recreate the technique and analyze the fluid dynamics of it.  Each paint has a slightly different density thanks to the pigments used to color them.  When a denser paint is poured over a less dense one (as in the white on black in the video), this activates the Rayleigh-Taylor instability.  The white paint will tend to sink down below the black paint due to gravity. At the same time, the spreading of the two paints also affects the shapes and patterns through mixing and diffusion. (Video credit: S. Zetina and R. Zenit)

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