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Scale Free Network
A Hierarchy of Eddies



Big whorls have little whorls
Which feed on their velocity,
And little whorls have lesser whorls
And so on to viscosity.

– Lewis Fry Richardson, 1881 – 1953.
English mathematician, physicist, meteorologist, psychologist and poet.


Part scientific-model, part black-box theatre, A Hierarchy of Eddies is an art-science experiment in staging the phenomenon of turbulence. Comprising two axial fans and ten litres of polystyrene balls enclosed in a chamber, this kinetic work enacts a constantly changing system, analogous to fluid flows everywhere: from inside our bloodstream, to rivers, tornadoes, rising smoke from a cigarette or cyclones on the surface of Jupiter. Framed by a proscenium, the moving balls act like pixels, drawing the currents of air as they circulate the chamber. Their actions reveal how higher levels of energy within the large-scale swirling structures, cascade into smaller and smaller scale structures. This dissipation of energy creates what is known as ‘a hierarchy of eddies’. A hallmark of turbulence, eddies (also known as vortices or whorls) can form in unpredictable ways, so much so that turbulence is considered one of the greatest mysteries of science. A Hierarchy of Eddies invites audiences to keep pace with these mesmerising patterns as they form, collapse and reform.

The Artist
Scale Free Network

Scale Free Network is a Melbourne-based, art-science collaborative founded by conceptual artist Briony Barr and microbial ecologist Dr Gregory Crocetti.