Anish Kapoor’s black water vortex spins endlessly into gallery floor ( Designboom )

The kochi-muziris biennale is india’s first biennale for contemporary art being held in kochi. one of the festival’s biggest draws is legendary artist anish kapoor‘s ‘descension’, created especially for the event. kapoor — long renowned for his large-scale, invasive sculptural works — sets visitors within the harrowing space at aspinwall house, fort kochi, where a caged vortex of black water spins down a seemingly bottomless hole in the gallery floor. a perpetually rushing whirlpool churns into the ground, entrancing observers in its continuity, and creating a spine-chilling atmosphere for those nearby. contained within the circular gate, ‘descension’ naturally draws visitors to peer as far down to its depths as they can, but it is kapoor’s masterful play with boundaries that keeps them constantly intrigued.

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Not all vortex rings are created equal. Despite identical generation mechanisms and Reynolds numbers, the two vortex rings shown above behave very differently. The donut-shaped one, on the top left in green and in the middle row in blue, was formed in a Newtonian fluid, where viscous stress is linearly proportional to deformation. As one would expect, the vortex travels downward and diffuses some as time passes. The mushroom-like vortex ring, on the other hand, is in a viscoelastic fluid, which reacts nonlinearly to deformation. This vortex ring first furls and expands as it travels downward, then stops, contracts, and travels backward! (Image credit: J. Albagnac et al.; via Gallery of Fluid Motion)