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FLUIDISM - The Formal Naming Of An Informal Art

Updated on September 1, 2011


I gave the name “fluidism” to the art of manipulating fluids.

Fluidism by Robert G. Kernodle - WHERE ALL LIFE FLOWS - original painting
Fluidism by Robert G. Kernodle - WHERE ALL LIFE FLOWS - original painting

Who Are The Fluidism Artists ?

I think it is safe to assume that human beings have been fascinated with fluid flow since before recorded history. The earliest fluidism artists, therefore, are not on record.

I think it is also safe to assume that NOT all people who have ever experimented with fluids artistically have made themselves known. Consequently, all fluidism artists are not recognized.

What I can say for sure is that, from ancient priests to present-day astronauts, the fascination for fluid flow has flourished:


  • Roxanne Regan-Briggs (contemporary painter)


  • Pery Burge (contemporary photographer)


  • Robert Dickman (contemporary artist)


  • Leo De Goede (contemporary painter)


  • Robert Kernodle (contemporary painter/photographer)


  • Rein Nomm (contemporary painter/photographer)


  • Chris Parks (scientist/artist)


  • Don Petit (space shuttle astronaut)


  • Frank Pietronigro (zero-gravity drift painter)


  • Jackson Pollock (famous abstract expressionist painter)


  • Ella Sipho (contemporary painter)


  • Suminagashi (ancient marbling artists)


  • Martin Waugh (contemporary photographer)


Liquid Sdulpture by Martin Waugh -- AGAINST THE ODDS -- amazing photo capture of nature's most fleeting fluid form
Liquid Sdulpture by Martin Waugh -- AGAINST THE ODDS -- amazing photo capture of nature's most fleeting fluid form | Source

The Need For A Name

Consistency calls for a label. The word, “fluidism”, is a logical choice for the name of art that consistently focuses on the material properties of fluids.

I am not the first fluidism artist. I do believe, however, that I am the first person to insist on this formal name.

Fluidism The Art Form

Fluidism is the art of fluids. More exactly, fluidism is the art of mixing and manipulating fluids for the purpose of discovering and preserving fascinating fluid dynamic patterns.

In fluidism art, various liquids of different colors and different thicknesses intermingle, collide and combine to form spontaneous shapes, textures and blends. These patterns are not exactly predictable. Instead, these patterns occur spontaneously in a pleasing manner. We can know that a pleasing pattern is likely to happen, but we cannot know exactly how or exactly why a pattern is pleasing. We merely react and accept this reaction as a legitimate measure of significance.

The marvel of fluid mixtures is that pleasing patterns happen regularly from no predictable cause and from no precise intent. Beauty is simply born in fluid flow. We recognize this universally.

Paint Fluidism

Paint dries to preserve the appearances of some patterns that stabilize while wet. In these cases, the actual paint substrates (dried paintings) become the artifacts and art forms. We can hang these original artifacts on the wall and, perhaps, call them “action paintings” or “abstract paintings”.

This is NOT the full extent of fluidism, however.

Paint FLUIDISM by Robert Kernodle - AQUATHERIAL
Paint FLUIDISM by Robert Kernodle - AQUATHERIAL

Photography Fluidism

Wet paint or other wet fluid mixtures can also generate transient forms. These transient forms break apart or dry up in a relatively short time. They cannot exist past a short time. These forms happen exactly once in a certain way. They cannot physically dry into place, because drying might very well destroy them. The very appearance and integrity of these forms depend on their remaining wet. These short-lived forms are the most active forms of beauty.

In these cases, a camera is the only way to create peak, static moments for future viewing. Artifacts and art forms, thus, are photographs of original events, NOT dried residues of original substrates, as in fluidism painting.

Photography FLUIDISM by Robert Kernodle - ASPECT 602
Photography FLUIDISM by Robert Kernodle - ASPECT 602

Definition Of “Painting”

Both in fluidism painting and in fluidism photography, original paintings truly exist. The concept of “painting”, however, differs in each case.

In fluidism painting, the word, “painting”, is more a noun. In fluidism photography, the word, “painting”, is more a verb. In fluidism painting, an original artifact exists past its time of creation to become the artwork that hangs on the wall. In fluidism photography, the original artifact disappears after its time of creation to become the subject of a secondary artifact (photograph), which becomes the only possible artwork to hang on the wall.

The patterns of fluidism photography cannot exist as nouns in the original substrate of the paint. Only moments of the dynamic painting process can exist as static photographic records.

In fluidism photography, then, what we have are anomalies of the painting world hardly recognized in the history of painting. These are the world’s most literal action paintings – paintings that are so active that human observation of them is very limited to a short span, as opposed to the longer span of a traditional painted wall hanging.

My Paint-ING

My photographs of fluidism paintings record peak events in small liquid pools and thin liquid films, staged in a large salad bowl, on a food tray, or in a pond of water inside a glass diffusion globe ordinarily used in ceiling light fixtures. These mundane implements were usually stabilized by improvised supports -- a broken window fan as a table top, a cooking pot and small cutting board as braces, and the floor of my tiny apartment as a base facing a large open window that allowed available direct sunlight to enter as the only source of illumination.

My choice of camera was a modest 35mm film camera, which I loaded with the best color transparency film I could find. I used a basic tripod to get clean shots, which I got scanned at a photo lab, and later I tweaked for contrast and color on a public computer equipped with unsophisticated photo editing software.

Not a very elaborate set up.

The madness of creativity, thus, is unstoppable.


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