Fractals


posted on 9th of june, 2008

Right at the start of this blog, let me say this out loud and proud, "I'M A FRACTAL ARTIST!" Sorry for all the shouting. Fractals seem to be such an orphan art form on most of the microstock sites. Other sites that I've been on actively discriminate against fractals. Dreamstime has never given me that feeling, and that is the reason I am posting this blog on Dreamstime. On some blogs, I've read remarks like, "If I see another fractal, I'm going to gag!" This was obviously written by some misguided and uninformed soul who doesn't understand the complexity and beauty of fractals. All great art has geometric under pinnings; and any great artist is, at the very least, an intuitive mathematician. It's just more obvious with fractals and mathematically generated digital images.

My fascination with fractals began almost ten years ago. When I saw my first fractals online, I was blown away. OK, I'm what you would call an art geek. Majored in art history in college. Have always loved to work with my hands and create things. Cooking, weaving, paper mache, beading, photography, or digital design and illustration, it's all the same to me. The creative process is identical, no matter what the medium. As an ex-science geek, too; the mathematical beauty and simplicity of the equations speaks to a long buried part of my soul.

Fractals were known long before everyone had access to a home computer, and there was a laptop sitting on every free space in most American homes. The mathematician Benoit Mandelbrott can be given credit with popularizing fractals with his books. His Mandelbrott fractal is ubiquitous and is the shape that is most often seen when you see fractals in the media. The practical applications for fractals are many. Next time you fly, take a look out the plane window at the rivers and mountain ranges or at the beautiful rocky coastlines that you might see below. You'll start seeing fractals everywhere. They are used by geologists and in the food industry alike. Not long after the practical uses for fractals were discovered, artists found that those equations could produce some stunning visual images. Yet, often those images looked like kitschy throwbacks to the 60s, but some unique and beautiful art emerged, too.

This led me to think, what if someone made fractals that don't look like fractals? What if they looked like Abstract Expressionist Art or Matisse's paper cutouts? Using Fractal Domains software, it's taken me 5 years of simplifying my images to even begin to reach this level of control. The goal was to make images that showed the underlying bones of the equations. Follow the lead of abstract art and show the image with the superfluous parts stripped away. Images that could stand alone as art, and not look like they were intended for a 60s college dorm room wall. The intellectual challenge was to constantly push the envelope not just stylistically, but to push the limits of my software's capabilities. This has often led to disasters. There have been hundreds of my images that have been directly deleted or that totally crashed the software, but it's been a ton of fun and probably made me a much smarter person.

The next step in this process is to make "art fractals" commercially successful. I plan to keep pushing to make fractals that are useful to the commercial design industry. Images that can stand alone or blend in as backgrounds. Computer generated abstract art is just in its infancy. The commercial possibilities of this new medium are endless. It's going to be exciting to see where all of this leads in the future.

Below I've listed some of the Fractal software popular with fractal designers. This only a small portion what can be found online.

Pat Ballard

Fractal Software

Fractal Domains: http://www.fractaldomains.com/
ArtMatic Pro: http://www.uisoftware.com/artmatic/
Oxidizer:http://oxidizer.sourceforge.net/Site/Oxidizer.html
Apophysis:http://www.apophysis.org/

Comments (1)

Posted by Cmarshall717 on June 09, 2008
Unfortunately, all the programs you listed above are for Mac. I use Windows (Vista). :-(



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Photo credits: Patricia L. Ballard.

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