Co.Design

Better Than A Double Rainbow: A Wall Made From A Soap Bubble

A young Dutch artist creates shimmering mirrors of soap film that reflect the audience for a few short seconds before bursting.

Do you know why soap bubbles are covered in those beautiful iridescent patterns? Dutch artist Nicky Assmann does—in fact, she’s based an entire series, called Solace, on the phenomenon.

In Solace, the audience watches as a mechanical armature slowly rises in front of a black backdrop. Lit from one side, a wide soap membrane grows from the metal rod, while behind it a second armature forms a second membrane. The two arms rise and fall like lungs, pulling wide ribbons of soapy film between them.

Solace exploits the effect of gravity on soap films. Most soap bubbles are made up of a mixture of glycerol and water, which have different levels of viscosity. That means that water and soap are affected by gravity at different rates. The swirling patterns you see in the film, after a few seconds held in a vertical position, is light refracting off of the film as water is pulled down more quickly than the rest of the soap film.

Assmann thinks of Solace as cinematic. She even says the subtitle—“A soap film apparatus”—is meant to be a pun. “The soap film becomes a mirror,” she says, “it’s part of the confrontation between you and the spatial intervention of the film.”

Solace will come to the Wood Street Galleries in Pittsburgh beginning on July 13. Assmann’s website is here.

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