Even layman can fractal too! -#8

Of the topics covered in lecture last week, I was most taken by the beauty of fractals, a type of art design based on repeated self-similar patterns. However, maybe it’s the sophistication that the patterns generate or its conjuncture with the underlining complex mathematics, I could never venture into it before due to my lack of mathematical prowess. This time though, thanks to this class assignment and thinking about ideas for the final project, I decided to peek into the field of digital fractal art to learn about how one can go about creating such art pieces. To my great surprise, it seems that one doesn’t necessarily need to be a math genius in order to create beautiful art using fractals! I happened upon Alice Kelley’s online gallery (www.alicekelley.com), which was well organized and allows visitors to see her works through the years as well as read her sharing of her understanding of fractal art, how she went about learning the fundamentals, and what software she used to create the art works.

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Heaven’s Gate, by Robert Carr 1994

Like me, Alice was not well versed in Mathematics, but when she chanced upon the “Heaven’s Gate” in a 1995 weekly graphics contest on a bulletin board system, she just felt that fractal image “seemed utterly beautiful to me beyond anything else I had ever seen.” She was thus inspired to learn more about fractal art and was first introduced to a 256 color DOS program, Fractinit, which ran on 486s that are probably less powerful and lower resolutions than the flip-phones of today. Even so, I am amazed by how she was able to use Fractinit to produce a rather stunning debut work, Snowstar, in 1999.

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Snowstar, by Alice Kelley 1999

Over the span of the next 16 years, Alice would experiment with various custom fractal producing programs, and the evolution of her expertise can be clearly tracked via an annual fractal calender that features her work since 2000 (http://www.amberlotus.com/alice-kelley/). Some of her earlier works that I really enjoy are as follows:

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Wheel of Time.

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Summers by the Sea.

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Mother and Children

Nowadays, Alice is branching out into new fractal art categories. One of which is termed “flame fractal,”

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Which are created using the freeware Apophysis. I could see why she doesn’t need to give individual names to each picture, as these fractals really do seem like flames in their spontaneous and dynamic nature. In addition, as if to catch up with the 3D craze of this generation, Alice also created many 3D fractals using a 3D multiprocessor fractal engine, Incendia.

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Looking through Alice’s fractal works really has helped me in taking a step into checking out this amazing field of computational art. Maybe I won’t be able to have enough time this quarter to create an experimental piece of my own, but I am definitely looking forward to playing with the fractal programs that Alice has mentioned and hopefully I can let my imagination be expressed through. Lastly, here is a link of a video of Alice artworks, enjoy!







-Yinrou Wang


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