mrvelocipede: (Default)
[personal profile] mrvelocipede
I don't know if it's just the dark chilly weather or what, but I seem to be all full of philosophic mutterings lately. I'm bashing at fractals again. Every so often I try web searches to see if I can find any examples of fractals being used for something really interesting or unexpected or cool, but so far not much has turned up. There are still the small handful of people making images I like, but nothing outside the already-familiar.

And I am constantly discouraged by the overwhelming quantity of really dull fractal art. I realize that lots of people try out a fractal generator, say Ooh, awesome! and stick a couple of dozen pictures on a website before getting bored and going on to something else. Therefore there's a lot of noise in the signal. But I'm disappointed that so few seem to get past that initial factor of Whoa! and realize that there are lots of possibilities still to explore. It's as though everyone who ever owned a camera took a picture of their foot, said Amazing! A picture of my foot! and then never tried taking a picture of anything else. Or maybe it's more like someone who takes pictures of everything, indiscriminately, and never gets as far as considering subject, composition, light, color, contrast, balance, aperture, shutter speed, or different kinds of film. (Everything is digital! There are no kinds of film anymore!)

There's also the part where sometimes I also make really awful fractals. My approach, when doing the sort of illustrative ones that are my usual style, is to build up (hopefully) recognizable shapes out of simple geometric elements, which are then mapped onto the basic fractal skeleton. I probably owe a lot of credit to the drawing instructions of Ed Emberley (warning: flashblob), where you put basic shapes together to make animals and buildings and so on.

Most of the time, I try to do this with a certain amount of subtlety: I think about light and shading and the kinds of materials different objects are made of, and whether they're transparent or reflective or squishy or fuzzy or what. However, it's trivially easy to make some truly hideous things out of simple geometric shapes. And sometimes I do, just because I can. Usually those die in the nethermost regions of my hard drive, where the rainbows and valentines go to rot.

To the obvious question, Why make the damned things in the first place? I can only say I don't know. Probably just to get them out of my head. So I made a thing full of smiley faces, and realized that there was an actual idea in there, and that in fact it needed to be a series. So far there are five of them. None of the others is as hideous as the smileys. For the sake of some kind of consistency, I did make all of them more simplified and saturated and cartoony than I normally would have.

And now I'm sitting here grinding my teeth in bitter self-loathing, because this is exactly the kind of thing I hate most about fractals. I'm pretty sure there are people out there who would think this is really cool. Or cute. Or legitimately cheering.


So, anyway, I'll probably post part two of the series tomorrow.
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June 2011

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