A word about Eyecandy

“C’mon Pinocchio, stop trying to express profound thoughts with art and come join the circus with us!”

Download parameter file patina03.loo

I never thought Sir Sterlingware would produce such a sugary lollipop as this, but here it is.

I can still remember shifting the last slider on the color controls that brought this crunchy confectionary into sharp focus.

I’ve got some other variations which are harsher and more artistic, echoing the more wholesome, fiber rich and nutritious stuff I usually like.

I think our minds have various capacities or appetites. We all like fractal eyecandy, bright, supersaturated, magazine cover artwork, but some of us don’t care for very much of it.

Others have more of a sweet tooth and like to linger all day in that warm glow of rich, candy-bar color.

There’s a fractal calendar that has been criticized by some for having mainly fruity, eyecandy content. It’s popular, people pay money to have a copy of it, bookstores and distributors make room for it on their shelves.

But I guess most consumers of art probably aren’t artists, so our opinions are more or less irrelevant. Would you buy your own work? Artists are poor judges of consumable merchandise.

Anyhow, I’ve come to realize that people are wired differently. There’s no such thing as a single standard of excellence in art.

Differences of opinion are a sign of honesty and maturity within a group of people.

Not everyone responds with joy at the same works of art. That’s why there’s so much variety in art: differening interests lead to different styles and subject matter.

I’ve really wondered over the years how stuff that I think is pointless can be found genuinely appealing by other people. I don’t think they’re faking it, anymore. I’m convinced there are varieties of artistic taste, for some unknown reason, and that’s all there is to it.

Well, I don’t know. Making art is easier than explaining it.

December 6, 2005

Skyfish and Waterbird

There was a time when the birds lived in water and the fish flew in the air. Then one day they met.

Download parameter file rotobits01.loo

Skyfish was flying in the air over a lake. He looked down at the water below him and thought how nice it must be to live there. He was always dry and itchy, and he hated it.

He had flown down low to take a closer look. But today he flew too close and fell into the water.

Skyfish sank helplessly in the water and thought he was going to die. But just before he came to the bottom of the lake, something picked him up and carried him on its back.

The creature was covered in soft feathers and slowly returned him to the surface of the lake where Skyfish gasped for air.

“I am Waterbird,” said the creature. “I’ve seen you looking into the lake before. Will you teach me to fly?”

“Why would you want to fly?” said Skyfish, “the sky is dry and makes my skin crack. I’m never going to fly again. I’m going to stay here. My skin feels so good now.”

Waterbird was silent for a while, then said “I’ll teach you to swim if you’ll teach me to fly.”

They taught each other how to live the way the other one did and eventually Skyfish could swim underwater and Waterbird could fly through the air.

“Why did you live in the sky,” asked Waterbird, “You’re an excellent swimmer, you’re a better swimmer than me.”

“I don’t know. I was born in the air,” replied Skyfish.

“From now on,” said Waterbird, “All your children will be born in the water, and all of mine will be born in the air.”

December 5, 2005

Fractal arm of power

Inspiring a thousand perfect poses and outdoing them all.

Download parameter file spiral16.xpf

In every Barnsley formula in mandelbrot mode, regardless of the plane, there’s a place where you find these riveted metal constuctions.

It reminds me of a picture I once saw in a history book about the huge hammer used in a German metal foundry called “Fritz.”

Fritz was simple, primitive and powerful. I’m sure every foundry at that time had a hammer for pounding steel, but there was only one “Fritz.”

This one’s a good example of the variety of imagery created by fractals. So much detail. There’s patterning and repeated structures, and yet every part of the picture is different and begs to be explored.

It’s funny how movies like Metropolis used big clunky machines embossed with rivet heads the size of a human foot to symbolize modern technology.

I guess anything that didn’t require a horse to help it function was considered magical and futuristic back then, just like in the Buck Rogers serials. It all seems medieval now.

Hmmmn… that’s quite a coincidence: Fritz the hammer and Fritz Lang the director.

I used to really like Fritz the Cat. Not the perverted animated remake, the original black and white cartoon strip.

You know, maybe I’m confusing it with something else. Krazy Kat?

While we’re on the German theme, how about the Swedish or Danish cartoon translated as “The Man who did whatever came to his mind.”

I saw a really funny one, the dark kind of humour, where the man was cutting off the fingers of one of his hands with a pair of scissors because he’d just shaken hands with someone he didn’t like.

Europe’s an interesting place.

December 4, 2005

Fractal Watercolors

The closest I ever came to making real artwork was when the teacher showed us how to do a “wash.”

Download parameter file watercolor01.loo

Drawing was hard and painting impossible, but covering the paper with water and painting on it seemed like cheating.

Today I see it as a primitive drawing program. The blurry shape of things to come, no pun intended.

The washing thing produces this fine airbrushed background that forms what us digital folks refer to as the background “layer.”

Let it dry, a bit, and then paint any semi-neanderthalic scene on it and it looks not too bad, for a change.

I started with a washed out horizon. Added a washed out green ground area below and a washed out blue sky area above, then stopped to let it dry and started to actually imagine myself as being an artist someday.

Continuing with this “lots of paint” technique, I painted a fence line of short, scraggly hawthorne trees. The less I painted the more the washed background stood out and the two complemented each other nicely.

Into this practically completely masterpiece I began to add my the image of my white pony with his fat hay-belly.

It didn’t turn out as well. Rather smugdy and the legs looked rubbery. Alright, make another one.

At some point I kicked myself free from reality and began to develop a series of ghost-like creatures. Rubbery and smudgy looked okay now.

My Mom loved it and even went on to frame it and hang it up on the wall at home. She still has it and I think she was actually being honest about how much she liked it.

I never made any more after that. I retired from art while back in high school, satisfied and undefeated.

December 3, 2005

Vintage color

It’s funny how old things can take on a new look in young eyes.

Download parameter file 500-05.loo

The “retro” and vintage look of old things never existed at the time they were made. In the context of newer things the old stuff now has a special look and appeal.

I like these two fractal images because of their old-style, primitive coloring appearance.

They have a “shifted” look suggesting the sloppy allignment of the different color plates in printing. In some areas the details are blotted out giving the effect of too much ink or a lack of transparency.

Maybe it’s just me. I look at them and think of faded book spines and forgotten pages with color plates glued in place by hand.

Download parameter file 500-03.loo

The people who made them are all gone now. What inspired them is a matter of speculation for our unknowing minds. Maybe a dedicated historian or graduate student could weave theories about them that would leave us with a sense of revelation.

But in the beginning they were ordinary, maybe even cheap.

But look how the passage of time has varnished them with a golden aura. How our young eyes, dulled by the crass exaggerations of the modern age, have been revived by their exotic hue and foreign scent.

How were they made? Does anyone know?

Such things should fade away, but instead they have come to glow.

…well, anyhow you never know what apparently mundane stuff of today might be cherished as “period pieces” and classic style in the days to come.

We’re living in the future’s past.

December 2, 2005

The Metalunans Attack

I think it would make a cool alien spaceship, somewhat spider-like.

Download parameter file metalunan.loo

I don’t know what it is about old science fiction movies that makes them so captivating to me. The current ones, since the mid-eighties, just don’t have the same feel to them.

When I was growing up all we could get were two television channels and VCRs and video taped movies weren’t really available.

The only venue for vintage sci-fi was the late night movie on CKNX or CKCO. They showed a lot of old stuff like the Carry On movies and Ma and Pa Kettle.

Once in a while they’d show something like the Andromeda Strain or “It! The Terror from Beyond Space.” I was too young to stay up for the late night movie so I’d have to sneak downstairs, hoping my parents had gone to bed and try to be really quiet.

Sometimes I missed a lot of dialog because I couldn’t risk turning up the volume too much and getting sent back to bed, ruining my secret sci-fi theater.

With the Andromeda Strain I reached my summit of clandestine late night movie watching.

My Dad stayed up late that night. It might have scuttled my chances of seeing the movie, but I was brave. I hid behind the couch in the living room while he watched the movie from another chair.

I couldn’t miss it, I’d read about that movie in my favorite science fiction movie magazines. I’d read about lots of vintage movies in a series of magazines called Space Trek and other generic sounding titles.

I even got out books from the library that decribed sci-fi movies and monster movies and discussed the history and styles. I found it hard to read much else, but anything about sci-fi movies I would search for and read like buried treasure.

But I couldn’t actually go and see any of these movies, I had to carefully monitor the TV listings in the local paper and wait.

I missed a chunk of the Andromeda Strain. My Dad got up half way through the movie and turned off the TV and went to bed.

There was nothing I could do from behind the couch but wait a reasonable length of time and then quietly turn the television back on.

I never saw the Lost Missile. It had been months since they’d shown any movies that were even remotely sci-fi like. I went to bed as usual and instead of staying awake until 11:45 and creeping downstairs, I fell asleep.

I still remember that sad feeling of waking up, seeing the daylightand then suddenly realizing I’d missed the movie and it was gone.

December 1, 2005

Fractal Fossil

Minerals, the basic building blocks of rocks, form crystals.

Download parameter file rock.xpf

Whether made of a single molecule or billions, the shape of the crystal remains the same while it grows in size.

Thousands come together to make a large crystal which looks identical to the one made by a single member.

But don’t take my word for it. I only took one course in geology and mineralogy was just a single chapter in the textbook.

But what if there was a crystal that was complex enough that when it grew it produced a typical mandelbrot shape?

Each new addition to the crystal was like the iteration of a fractal formula and produced the starting point where the next molecule was added to the crystal.

Like interlocking stone on a driveway. If the stones are curved, but the curvature is such that they never form exactly 360 degrees, never form a complete circle, then they would make a spiral, either inwards or outwards.

Anyhow, maybe such a mandlebrot fossil like the one pictured above is possible. Maybe an artificially made molecule could have fractal properties and it would be possible to grow fractal sculptures from it.

Or how about some variation of dominoes? A dominoe has two ends. The next dominoe must match the number on one of the ends. In a mixture of dominoes, eventually all of them would form into threads.

What am I saying? Who would want to look at a mathematical bowl of spaghetti?

But keep your eyes peeled. I’m sure the fractal minerals will be discovered soon. It could be you.

November 30, 2005

Seen any good kleenex boxes lately?

I saw one just the other day, it had an abstract, almost fractal pattern to it. The colors were deep, mysterious, and Chagall-like.

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But as I got closer to the kleenex box, I saw the fractal shape was just a big butterfly.

I never thought much of this kleenex box genre until I saw an amazing collection of six boxes for sale in the grocery store. Packaged together in clear wrap, a plastic carrying handle on top, just like the jumbo packs of toilet paper.

Each one could have been put in a glass case or flattened out and framed. And these were only the economy priced kleenex boxes.

You can find boutiques selling ritzy kleenex box covers made of metal, cloisonne or wood. But there are cheap paper board boxes made with material thinner than cereal boxes, made to be used and thrown away, that look better than the $50 dollar luxury models.

There are places in the world where poor people decorate their houses, or shanties with pictures from magazines and other thrown away sources.

Some art is garbage, but can some garbage be art?

Many of the great revolutionary movements in art have come from simply putting a magnifying glass to things that have been around us for a long time. Sunlight, shadow, people, landscapes…

We relate to great works of photography because, in part, they remind us of things we’ve already felt or seen.

We were there before the artist was.

November 29, 2005

The Fleshy-Headed Microbe

If you switch from the first orbit counting method to the second, the arms turn springy.

Download parameter file squork09.loo

Which raises the question, just what can we expect to see in fractals?

I think fractal art is very similar to photography. We don’t create the subject matter we create the way it is presented.

Everything you see in photographs you can expect to see in fractals. Fractals have the same potential as photography. That’s quite a bit, isn’t it?

Except for the wide range of expression made by human expressions, and of course reality in general, which has no equivalent in fractal imagery, since fractals are abstract, other than that, we should expect a lot from fractal art.

Well, maybe the absence of people and realism is a major limitation to fractal art. But are fractals really abstract?

The squork bugs here looks somewhat real, just stylized. Many fractals are named after real things because they have such a strong resemblance. Perhaps “abstract” is just the reality we haven’t seen before?

I wouldn’t describe fractals as abstract. I don’t expect to find “abstractions” when I’m using Sterlingware or Xaos.

But then maybe “abstract” is in itself an abstraction since truly abstract imagery is impossible. You can’t see abstract things!

I think I’m getting somewhere. Abstract art is merely “stylized” realism. Some abstract art is more stylized, meaning it doesn’t “look” like anything real, and some is less stylized, meaning it has been “abstracted” or slightly modified from it’s natural appearance.

Van Gogh’s paintings of flowers, people and other stuff would be the less stylized stuff and a white canvas without a frame painted white would be the extreme end of the abstract scale.

Maybe that answers the question, what can we expect in fractal art?

Everything from Van Gogh to a blank square.

November 28, 2005

The good, the bad and the mandelbrot

Bottlecap Boy, on the left. The Pull-tab Kid, upper right. Who will draw their guns first?

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We hear shots, we see smoke. It’s Big & Dark vs. Small & Shiny.

Nothing happens. The shots came from somewhere else. The smoke is unexplained, maybe it was dust.

Close-up shots. The Kid is left-handed. Bottlecap Boy isn’t used to that.

Still more close ups. Bottlecap Boy hasn’t shaved for days. Just as well, it hides the scars. Man, he’s ugly.

Why don’t they shoot? Why?

Yes, the music isn’t finished yet. They’re waiting for Ennio Morricone’s crescendo of trumpets.

Bottlecap Boy falls down. Even that takes a long time. Sergio Leone has rewritten the laws of physics just to make this scene.

No, just wounded. He’s still alive, his gun has been shot conveniently out of his hand though.

Increased options for the screen writer. Dead gunslingers just get buried, but wounded ones can live on to spark a thousand flaming schemes of revenge.

The Pull-tab Kid walks up and says something. I can’t make it out. The Boy responds. He’s cursing the Pull-tab Kid’s mother. He calls his father a coyote. But that could be a compliment. No, he’s calling his father a pack of coyotes. More than one. That’s got to be an insult.

The Kid looks away, smiling. No, not smiling, he’s squinting at something in the distance.

Horses coming.

The approach of their mutual enemies makes them friends. They mount up and ride off together.

The sound of trumpets, twanging guitar, church bell and wind.

November 26, 2005