Week 8: Fractals and Glenn Marshall

This week we were introduced to the topic of fractals. In researching fractal art, I came across the widely acclaimed interactive software artist, Glenn Marshall. Glenn is a winner of many digital art awards and creates art made purely from algorithmic code, which includes fractals. The following clip shows ten years of his work in a compilation.

One of his works that I will be talking about is named “Music is Math.” One of his descriptions explains it “is a generative art piece created from purely mathematics and code.” He uses the Processing language in order to display his piece; claiming that it is his first project that used Processing He wrote his own program and used music provided by the band “Boards of Canada.”

The digital environment displayed in this piece starts with an off white screen and a black line with a point. The black line quickly starts to resemble tree branches and branches off into fractals. A dark cloud follows the fractals and gets darker as the video advances. Around the fifty second mark, peacock-like leaves resembling black and white circles sprout from the branches, thus showing us more mathematical patterns. Further along, the circles are released from the branches and now resemble tadpoles flying through the air. The “tadpoles” fly in flocks, creating yet another pattern and visual aspect of the video. During the entire video, the viewer’s point of view is focused on one “main” branch in the center of the screen. The camera shifts in order to center it on the screen as it evolves, shifts, and duplicates. Marshall wanted us to have a specific perspective of his creation and in doing so, was able to keep one aspect of the simulation consistent. Lastly, the experimental music reacted very well to the music as that was most likely his intent. During the introduction of new fractals, the music would shift to a more unique sound. Many of his works are worth watching as they show us how amazing the visual aspect of mathematical algorithms can be and how nature itself (tree branches) can lead to algorithmic inspiration.

-David Wang


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