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Submitted on
August 8, 2011


15,600 (2 today)
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The Fractal Universe

Journal Entry: Mon Aug 8, 2011, 1:01 PM

Is a photograph only a record, something created by a machine?  Can photography ever truly be considered art?  That question seems quaint and laughable these days, but if you do a little research you will find that once upon a time it was a raging debate.  Thankfully a consensus has been reached that the agency of the photographer – his or her eye and critical mind – choosing the subject and manipulating the machine (the camera that is the art instrument) is what establishes photographs as potential works of art when created by an artist-photographer.  Pretty basic common sense, huh?  So why then is there now a debate as to whether FRACTAL ART is truly art – or just something produced by poking patterns into a computer?  Isn't it just really random e-graffiti, a fibonacci button mash?

Here we go again… Hopefully it won’t take nearly a century again before fractal art is recognized as the creative expression of artistic individuals possessing, developing and executing a distinct subset of critical-analytical, emotional, and technical skills in order to create objects that can inspire, amuse, soothe, startle or otherwise engage the mind of the beholder.  It’s art for the new age, and a most welcome new player.

My Questions for the Reader

  1. How do you respond to critics who claim that fractal art is too much of the “machine” creating the artwork?
  2. What is the extent of the artist’s human agency that makes a fractal artwork the artists vision rather than just an extension of “the machine”?
  3. Is a background in mathematics or programming something that can greatly aid a fractal artist?

While writing this article I recalled a brief but mind expanding conversation I was lucky enough to have with Ray Kurzweil last year about the coming Singularity and it made me think…

  1. When we are able one day soon to use computer chips implanted in our brains to project purely imagined images onto canvases, monitors or into the air as floating holograms – will this be accepted as genuine artistry … or will these “artists” be dismissed as mere “daydreamers”?

I have only chosen a few pieces of Fractal artwork for this article so I am really looking forward to hearing your thoughts on Fractal Art in general and whom you might recommend as some of the more inspiring Fractal Artists on dA.

Abstract Fractal by nmsmith
HoM -Hanging on Myself- by Juniae
The Mother Ship by GypsyH
FlowerLane by coby01
Reverie by Tibodo

Since posting this article on Monday

I have had the opportunity to learn quite a bit about Fractal art from the community behind these amazing works of art.   Most inspiring to me were the details around how the pieces are actually constructed and some of the unique history behind the origin of the medium itself.   The Fractal community here on dA is comprised of a very talented, passionate and generous group of people.   Thank you to everyone, who in the last week helped me to better understand this beautiful art form.

There has been incredibly inspiring discussion in the comments below around the questions that I posed to the community.   These are just a few of the deviants who have already contributed to the conversation in meaningful ways.




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DeaconStone Featured By Owner Nov 13, 2012  Professional Digital Artist
How do you respond to critics who claim that fractal art is too much of the “machine” creating the artwork?
Educate and reveal the mystery. Personally I feel that like all art there are techniques we use to create that which we envision. Knowing that a particular formula will create certain effects is akin to music where 1-6-4-5 patterns or 1-4-5 patterns have resulted in many different songs. Its like asking if musicians only follow patterns. Clearly the patterns exist, but each song is unique to the artist. While two songs may use the chords E-A-D (which can be heard in many well known songs) those songs can sound very different from one another. There may be particular parameters which differ, or have been slightly altered from the standard which makes that song unique. I see fractal art in a very similar manner. You can follow the parameters, but ultimately as an artist you always alter things to your own liking. I was watching a documentary "The making of Aja" by Steely Dan and in it one of the musicians said, its not about learning the songs to play perfection, but the step beyond that where you are just playing. The machine may be the tool used, but ultimately without the artist the machine doesn't make art on its own.

What is the extent of the artist’s human agency that makes a fractal artwork the artists vision rather than just an extension of “the machine”?
The artist makes the choices. Color palette, form, shape, line, size, etc... The machine can randomize within a range, sure... but I, the artist, can go outside that range. Even further then that, I can go outside the base program and involve other techniques, and or tools to do what the original generating program could not.

Is a background in mathematics or programming something that can greatly aid a fractal artist?
I'd say yes, because after all you are using math but it isn't required in my opinion. It helps to understand what its going to do to transform the image, especially when you stack up the transforms. Sometimes I tend to experiment with different methods to get to the result I'm looking for. Knowing that using a particular set of parameters will give me some form of effect I'm looking for is a tool in the belt. In the same way, if I want deep and rich texture in a painting I might use modelling paste to build thickness. In real media, we have the same tools, and we understand them to be tools and techniques used to illicit an effect. I feel fractal art is no different. It still requires the same understanding of form, line, and composition as the other art forms to have a strong image in the end.

Thanks for the great article and the solid questions. Rock on :)
DsyneGrafix Featured By Owner Feb 9, 2012  Hobbyist Digital Artist
For those interested here is a short list of some Fractal Artist Superstars:

To see a great gallery of Fractal Art goto: [link]
oohamuffin Featured By Owner Nov 27, 2011  Hobbyist General Artist
1. that would be like saying a pencil or a paintbrush or a piece of charcoal does all the work. I say the artist does all thework because they actually come up with the art.
3. probably.
4. if it comes from someone's imagination still, i say it's art.
tyris-stark Featured By Owner Nov 27, 2011
As far as question four goes: all art, without exception, is mere daydreams. The "projectors" will just be more obvious about it.
Imahimonoonna Featured By Owner Nov 21, 2011  Hobbyist Digital Artist
I personally think Fractal art is very beautiful. I wish I knew how to do it.
Hetronicle Featured By Owner Nov 21, 2011
mmmm ...I just had lamb brains for dinner ...lovely
OK ..some of us have answered these questions to our own satisfaction ...should this be enough ...still, would be amusing if someone could collate all the negative responses to these questions ..c'mon dev-gurus give a look-see eheh
GreatToaNui Featured By Owner Nov 20, 2011  Hobbyist Writer
Actualy, as long as it is a picture, it is 'traditional' art no matter how it was made.



<rant over>

any questions?
GreatToaNui Featured By Owner Nov 20, 2011  Hobbyist Writer
It is not the machine that makes the art, it just renders it into picture form.
sracha1713 Featured By Owner Nov 20, 2011  Student Digital Artist
I really like photography. It is my second favorite art. Yes, sad art because i also feel that photography is an art. It is the person who takes the photos and manipulates them and changes the way they look. Some pictures i take are of flowers, but seen in another perspective the flowers looks totally different in the photos. Taking picture allow one t pulte the world into something even more fantastic.
BohemiannConections Featured By Owner Nov 20, 2011
Haha! This artwork reminds me a Theory of Chaos.
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