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A Kinetic Artist's Puffy Cotton Cloud Levitates Like Magic

Laurent Debraux uses simple principles like magnetism to create mind-bending moving sculptures.

  • <p>Laurent Debraux creates captivating kinetic sculptures. Here we see one of his first creations, a magnet wrapped in cotton. (Or a cloud.)</p>
  • 01 /05

    Laurent Debraux creates captivating kinetic sculptures. Here we see one of his first creations, a magnet wrapped in cotton. (Or a cloud.)

  • 02 /05

    Much of his other work plays with magnetism, but in very different ways. This is Ferrofluid, which moves around liquid like an abstract maze.

  • 03 /05

    Or this, which translates to "The Clock Is Ticking"--a fun (magnetic) play on a deconstructed clock.

  • 04 /05

    But Sinopé abandons magnetism altogether to play with a simple optical illusion.

  • 05 /05

    And "Hands and Feet" moves to organic forms (sticks). It’s varied work, seemingly devoid of trope. And that makes Debraux’s creations a lot of fun.

"I’m sorry, but I can’t tell you lies or good stories," Laurent Debraux begins. "I just made an exhibit for fun, with my family, during Open Doors of Artists Studios in my neighborhood. I owned a little levitation toy, and thought it would be fun to use it in the exhibit. After a little time wondering what to put on it, I decided to use cotton."

Debraux apologizes again that he has no deeper philosophy to share. But I find the earnestness refreshing, as his slowly spinning floating cloud—or magnet wrapped in a chunk of cotton—doesn’t require deep pontification to hit you in the gut. It’s simply captivating.

"And before that, I had no art culture, had never thought of making art, and never imagined or wished to become an artist," he continues. "So I did things that I thought were funny, and discovered great pleasure doing it, and that people liked it. As my job in computer programming wasn’t going well, I decided to continue."

Today, Debraux works in kinetic sculpture—creative, moving mechanics that intrigue the most basic parts of our human curiosity. They use levers, pulleys, hinges, and magnetism to move shapes in fantastical, never-quite-predictable ways.

In "The Clock Is Ticking," a deconstructed timepiece dances like a ballerina, while in "Ferrofluid," a ferromagnetic liquid ebbs from maze-like constructions to total abstractions. Each piece seems to have a whiff of grade-school science experiment, but that’s part of the charm, elevated to high art via Debraux’s unique perspective.

"I have no abilities to draw or paint, or sculpt beautiful or meaningful things," Debraux persists. "The only thing I know is working with movement, as I love it … Only by chance for me, what I love can make people smile."

See more here.

[Hat tip: Colossal]