Tuesday, February 8, 2011
Consider how fractal-based forms are associated with daydreams, fantasy, and even worship.
1. Marbleized paper in an old book of poetry (above left).
2. Ornate movie palaces from the 1920s (above right).
3. Cathedral architecture (think of Gaudi's Sagrada Familia cathedral in Barcelona).
4. Limestone dripstone formations (below).
5. Roccoco gold picture frames.
6. Bird’s eye wood grain or patterns in marble.
7. The fluid, languid smoke of incense or pipe smoke.
In the absence of these forms, the human spirit can wither. Think of the bleak rectilinear spaces such as parking garages. Or prisons. These lack organic character, and are scalebound, that is, lacking the large and small forms repeating at different levels of magnification, one attribute of fractal geometry which can lead to a sense of worlds within worlds.
What happens when these fractal patterns are set into motion? Nothing is more compelling than watching the flicker of firelight, the swirl of smoke in a still room, the cycling of ocean waves, waterfalls, rapids, or stream eddies. Time lapse has allowed us to see the mesmerizing beauty of a plant growing or a cloud forming.
Computers offer new ways to experience such forms. Computer-generated music visualizers are getting better and better and doing what the Disney animated film Fantasia did by hand. Below, a still from from the open source visualizer program "MilkDrop."
I believe we’re on the threshold of a major new art form using computers to create visualizers as changing visual spaces into which we can project our consciousness.
Imagine a “biofeedback Rorschach” system, where the computer monitors the brain response when we begin to see a face in a cloud, and then manipulates the forms to accentuate the effect. A computer could shift in and out between abstraction and representation, suggesting grass blowing in the wind or a figure dancing, or scary faces wired to our own unconscious fear response.
Depending on the program, and the sensibilities we bring to it, it could bring us into the heart of dreams or nightmares, and give artists and digital filmmakers a profoundly powerful tool.
Yale website on Fractal geometry
Examples of fractal patters in nature
Wikipedia on Music Visualization
Wikipedia on MilkDrop
Sagrada Familia on Wiki
Frame via Carver’s Guild
Movie palace via The Clay Board