This video, found via Dark Roasted Blend, really blew my mind. It's described as follows by its creators:
“Morpho Towers--Two Standing Spirals” is an installation that consists of two ferrofluid sculptures that moves synthetically to music. The two spiral towers stand on a large plate that hold ferrofluid. When the music starts, the magnetic field around the tower is strengthened. Spikes of ferrofluid are born from the bottom plate and move up, trembling and rotating around the edge of the iron spiral.
The body of the tower was made by a new technique called “ferrofluid sculpture” that enables artists to create dynamic sculptures with fluid materials. This technique uses one electromagnet, and its iron core is extended and sculpted. The ferrofluid covers the sculpted surface of a three-dimensional iron shape that was made on an electronic NC lathe. The movement of the spikes in the fluid is controlled dynamically on the surface by adjusting the power of the electromagnet. The shape of the iron body is designed as helical so that the fluid can move to the top of the helical tower when the magnetic field is strong enough.
The surface of the tower responds dynamically to its magnetic environment.
When there is no magnetic field, the tower appears to be a simple spiral shape. But when the magnetic field around the tower is strengthened, spikes of ferrofluid are born; at the same time, the tower’s surface dynamically morphs into a variety of textures ranging from soft fluid to minute moss, or to spiky shark’s teeth, or again to a hard iron surface. The ferrofluid, with its smooth, black surface that seems to draw people in, reaches the top of the tower, spreading like a fractal, defying gravity.
. . .
Fluid moves synthetically with the music, as if it breathes, and the condition of the fluid's surface emerges as autonomous and complex. In this art we want to harmonize several opposing properties, such as hardness (iron) / softness (fluid) and freedom (desire for design) / restriction (natural powers such as gravity). This work emerges as an autonomous transformation of the material itself: sometimes it seems like a horn, sometimes a fir tree, and sometimes even like the Tower of Babel.
There's more at the link. It's well worth reading as background information.
Here's the video. I recommend watching it in full-screen mode if possible.
And all that's done with magnets! Amazing, isn't it?