VIS 159 Final Project: Fruitful Fractals

Title: Fruitful Fractals

Artist: Amber Tang

Completion Date: 14 March 2015

Place of Creation: The balcony of my apartment

Style: Canvas painting

Technique: Fruit stamping

Material: Acrylic paint, pineapple, apple, grapefruit, tomatoes, star fruit, canvas, plates

Documentation Link: 


Fractals, a term coined by Benoit Mandelbrot in the mid-1970s, (from Latin, fractus, meaning to break), are infinitely complex, self-organizing, self-similar patterns in nature, image fragments, or geometric shapes, that are replicable and sub-dividable across different scales. Some fragments are created by processes that repeat in feedback loops and can potentially be recursive. They act as ways to create complexity through simple processes and can reveal order within clutter or chaos. These fractal patterns are abundant in the natural world especially in the growth and physical structure of fruits. The art piece that I created is my own attempt at exploring the unique fractals within these particular fruits of varying shapes and sizes.

Inspired by computer and digital fractal art, such as the Mandelbrot sets, as well as traditional paintings, such as Salvador Dali’s “Visage of War”, I wanted to create my own painting that would also incorporate the use and beauty of fractals. In my particular case, rather than using a computer generated program or creating my own fractals from scratch, I wanted to explore fractal patterns through the ones that can be easily found in fruit. I decided to use pineapples, because of multiple patterns that can be seen from the spanning of the top leaves in a circular formation and the Fibonacci sequencing of the sections form the fruit’s exterior with each section having a slightly higher position that the one beside it. I used star fruits because of the unique star-like expansion of its segmented edges into five sections. I chose a citrus fruit such as grapefruit because of the tiny spotted compressions in the fruit’s skin and the unique positioning of the sections of pulp. Apples were used because of their unique shape with two compressed centers, both from the top and the bottom, that merge out and combine. This structuring is also evident in the inside of the apple where the middle section containing the seeds expands to fit the unique form. Lastly, I also used tomatoes because of the branching patterns of the stem it grows on and the small star like leaves that connect the fruit to the stem. The inside of a tomato is also unique in how it is segmented into a shape that separates the seeds into two chambers.

To create my art piece, I cut up the different parts of the fruits that had the fractals I wanted to emphasize and I dipped that piece into a plate of paint before I stamped the fruit’s pattern onto a canvas. Because I was working with fruit, I decided to try and replicate a flower-like pattern, since I figured all fruits started out as the reproductive tissue of plants. In an attempt to use only fractals for my art piece, I also alternated the three primary colors and three secondary colors in a particular order to create a colored pattern as well. The most challenging aspect of this piece for me was trying to capture all the textures and details of the fruits through paint, which was often erased by the acrylic paint’s thick texture. However, I discovered that in using paint and stamping motions with the fruit bits onto the canvas, new branch-like fractals were created inside some of the paint marks made from the fruit.

From my piece I wanted to demonstrate the vast existence of fractals and patterns outside of just in the realms of science, math, and technology. The art piece was an attempt to try and replicate the beauty and organized chaos that computer fractal art could create, without the use of any technological elements, and to further illustrate the idea that fractals can be found nearly everywhere and have been in existence since before society gained knowledge of these patterns and coined a fitting term. Fruitful Fractals can potentially be a piece that lives on in an art gallery or public installation and can be hung in any direction because of the painting’s unique radial symmetry which attempts to mimic the radial symmetry that occurs in nature. As an art piece, Fruitful Fractals can testify for the still unknown concepts behind how phenomena such as fractals have come to exist in the physical world and the abundant roles they serve in everyday society. The artwork can also do well as a demonstration of the current instances of where fractals already appear in the everyday natural world without human intervention.

~ Amber Tang 🙂


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