Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Fractal Art

By Raj Mathur Life Positive, April 1996
Pack up your easel, palette and paintbrushes. Turn, instead, to the mouse and the PC. Just a few clicks away, lies pixel art that arises from fractals or geometric figures. Fragmented, irregular and magical, it takes you to a whole new world. A world where there is beauty in form, rhythm in color, order in chaosFractal geometry was accidentally discovered about two decades ago by mathematician Benoit Mandelbrot, who was born in Warsaw, and later shifted to the US, where he worked at IBM. While plotting the imaginary values of the square root of minus one, Mandelbrot found beautiful patterns and shapes that repeated themselves in different scales-like the shape of a tree is mimicked by the branch, the branch by the twig, the twig by the leaf.
The art of fractals is both simple and complicated. Simple, because, given the right mix of software, hardware and imagination, even the guy next door can easily work at producing them. Complex, simply because if you take a fractal, zoom into a small part, and then blow it up, you find the new picture is at least as complicated as its original. The basic pattern of the fractal is repeated, but, with each repetition, the pattern differs slightly. The beauty of the whole process is that this continues however deep you zoom into the fractal. This form of art is used by musicians. It is also used by economists, geologists, filmmakers and, of course, by computer enthusiasts such as Raj Mathur who has generated the images that you are seeing here.
Compact discs of readymade fractals are readily available on the market. But Mathur works from a fractal program and a set of formulae to evoke these beautiful images. So, in a sense, he has technically generated them. He is, however, quick to give credit to the original authors of the formulae-Michael Coddington, Ian Adma, Richard Hughes, Pieter Branderhorst, Scott Taylor and Ethan Nagel. Says cyber junkie Mathur whose social life seems to be restricted to the computer: "Fractals are absolutely fascinating. If my math were better, I would have learnt more about them. But, even without math, I am quite happy to generate and view them." To view Raj Mathur's fractal art, click here.

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