Fractals

Fractals

It started off as so many interests do…something catches our attention out of the corner of our eye.

For me, it was a 2016 Fractal Calendar, sitting on a display carousel in Whole Foods Market, late in 2015, at a time I desperately needed something colorful and beautiful to distract me. I hadn’t had a wall calendar for a few years, and I wasn’t looking for one. I purchased it immediately.

The back of the calendar said “Fractals are the visual depictions of mathematic equations…A computer program assigns a color to each point in the image based on the answer to a chosen equation, which then results in abstract fractal shapes.”

The fractals in this calendar were created by Alice Kelley, so I came home with my new treasure and immediately looked her up. Here’s her explanation of what fractals are.

Not only did she have more photos on her site, she listed what software she used to create them. (I’ve also put a list on the side of this page.)

Most of the software was Windows-based, and I’m on a Mac, but one of them, Ultra Fractal, works on both operating systems. I downloaded a trial version, and I started playing around with it.

What I was able to create is a LONG way from what true fractal artists are creating, but I got a truly fun and engrossing taste of the possibilities playing around in it.

The interface lets you choose different kinds of base equations, like Mandelbrot or Newton. Then you can set different parameters to those equations, and watch what it creates. I took nine math courses, through Scientific Calculus III, but Physics formulas weren’t covered. I also don’t remember much of it, although I did end up enjoying the heck out of those courses.

Don’t let the equation/math foundation of this art put you off. It isn’t necessary to have a math or physics background in order to do this. It’s fascinating and absorbing, and I’m looking forward to having some more time to spend on it.

In the meantime, I’ve purchased Alice Kelley’s 2017 calendar, which is even more beautiful than the 2016 version!

Besides discovering fractal art, showing the calendar to one of my housemates led to learning about generative, algorithmic art. That’s where you write your own program to create art.

Years ago, a co-worker’s husband was doing something similar on a super powerful computer. I remember being fascinated way back then, with the beautifully colored patterns he created and printed on black backgrounds.

Then, digging around for more information on fractals, and generative, algorithmic art, led me to fractals. I downloaded a program called Mandelbulb and spent the better part of a day traversing worlds it created.

An infinite number of artistic, mathematic, programming possibilities showed up in my world, just from paying attention to something that caught my eye in a grocery store. I’ve long been interested in exploring the interface between math/computer programming and art, music and robotics. I’ve finally decided to dig into each of them, to see what I can create.

I’m sure I’ll share what I learn and experience and create. I’m already looking forward to writing about what I found on generative art and Mandelbulb. I’m sure I’ll share what I learn and experience and create on all of these things.

Has something caught your attention like that, and sucked you in? I’d love to hear about it!


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2 COMMENTS
  • Mike Lewinski
    Reply

    I love fractals. Since you’re on a Mac you should check out Chris King’s fractal software, Dark Heart: http://dhushara.com/DarkHeart/

    1. cjromb
      Reply

      Thanx for the lead on that!

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