Weekend Diversion: Rorschach In Real Life!

“None of you seem to understand. I’m not locked in here with you. You’re locked in here with me! ” -Rorschach, from Watchmen


One of the best graphic novels I’ve ever read is Watchmen, created by Alan Moore, Dave Gibbons and John Higgins. (Decent movie, too.) One of the things that struck me most about it is how fatalistic and, in many ways, hopeless it all seems. To set the mood this week, I give you Ben Harper‘s melancholic song,

Widow Of A Living Man.
With a slew of well-developed, major characters, a case can be made for any number of them as either the most heroic or villainous; in my case, I’ll simply come out and say that — for me — the most compelling was Rorschach.

With an ever-shifting pattern of ink blots on his mask, modeled after the famous ink blot test, Rorschach was for me emblematic of the shifting moods, advantages and disadvantages we feel run through our lives.

Plus, he’s a gigantic badass.

But what I didn’t expect to see is that someone would have re-created masks of Rorschach, complete with changing black-and-white ink blot patterns! And yet, such a thing not only exists, it’s for sale.

Check out RorschachMasks.com, where a very talented (and anonymous) graphic artist not only creates and produces these masks, but they change their ink-blot patterns dependent on whether you’re breathing in or out! There even exists a set of tips (lightly edited by me) for how to maximize the effect:

The effect is most apparent in temperatures around 70 degrees [Fahrenheit] or lower, as you need warm/cool air to activate the shift. I’ve seen some people carry around a damp sponge or napkin in their pocket and subtly wipe their mask to keep it moist – it reacts to subtle breaths better in that state. Also, if you buy/own two or more masks, when you slip off to the bathroom that’s prime opportunity to switch faces and keep the effect “new” for the people around you.

(Yes, I’m sure that the author meant Fahrenheit… think about it!)

There are five separate patterns of Rorschach mask available; check out the video that shows each one in action!

Just like a hypercolor T-shirt or a mood ring, this mask operates off of the property of thermochromism, in this particular case, by using temperature-sensitive ink. A change in temperature changes what frequencies of light are absorbed/emitted by the either the dye molecules or the liquid crystals used in thermochromism, and my guess is that these masks use the dyes, which are both less toxic and coarser in their temperature sensitivities.

Pretty neat, what a little bit of physics can add to your costumes. Enjoy pondering this find, and have a great weekend!

Comments

  1. #1 The Bobs
    December 19, 2011

    This is chemistry, not physics. You physicists want to take credit for everything!

  2. #2 Don
    December 20, 2011

    The Bobs, haven’t you read XKCD? Chemistry is just applied physics. ;P

  3. #3 Kevin
    December 21, 2011

    I really wish I’d known about this like 3 months ago. I was seriously contemplating a Rorschach halloween costume but didn’t think I could do the face justice. Even cooler would be applying some sort of heating element that could modulate the ink in other locations (without burning off your face).

  4. #4 Derek in DC
    December 22, 2011

    Too bad we aren’t able to change the temperature of our eyes and cheeks by mere force of will.

  5. #5 summer jones
    October 3, 2013

    if you want to purchase these watchmen rorschach mask at best prices then you can check out the site
    http://www.chromonite.com

  6. #6 Larry
    January 6, 2014

    Regarding “Chromonite” posted above: Don’t support copycat thieves! Losers who copied an original idea are pathetic…

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