Benoît Mandelbrot, 1924 – 2010


As I described in my post about him from 2008, Benoît Mandelbrot was not an artist, but a mathematician.

His work, however, has enabled others, from dedicated computer artists to dabblers, to create the multitude of stunning images we know as ‘fractals”. In the process, he deepened our understanding of nature and the concept of infinity.

Benoît Mandelbrot died this morning at the age of 86.

There is a bio on Wikipedia, from which the images above were taken. They are part of a set of images in which each is a magnified crop from the last (I’ve skipped some in the sequence above).

For more, see my previous post on Benoit Mandelbrot, in which I give a better overview of Mandelbrot and his contribution, a brief explanation of fractals and links to images and other resources.

[Via Kottke]

 
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Danny van Ryswyk

Danny van Ryswyk
Danny van Ryswyk is an artist from the Netherlands.

When I originally wrote this post he was painting high-chroma, detailed still life subjects using the techniques of the Dutch masters, painting on mahogany wood panels.

In an interesting turn of artistic direction, he is now working in monochromatic digital media in the vein of pop surrealism, using 21st century tech to evoke a feeling of 19th century photography.

The pieces on his blog, of which he is offering limited edition giclée prints, are not yet extensive in number but will undoubtedly be added to over time.

(Note: some pieces should be considered NSFW.)

[Post edited July, 2012]

 
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Carter Hodgkin

Carter Hodgkin
From a comment on my previous post about Fractal Images (thanks, Cedra), I learned of Carter Hodgkin, an artist working on one of those wonderfully fuzzy borders between art and science.

Hodgkin’s paintings, drawings and prints are inspired by the tracings of “exotic” particles, strange bits of matter born in the miniature cataclysms created in the bubble chambers (or “cloud chambers”, I love that phrase) in the heart of the great atom smashers like the Tevatron at Fermilab or the Large Hadron Collider.

These particles, the examination of which is one of the gateways to our understanding of the fundamental nature of space/time, exist for only the briefest blips of time, increments so small they defy understanding.

The tracks that trace their fleeting expression in this world are the paths they take out of the collision, usually in graceful spirals and curves with their own strange beauty (you can see a couple of actual images here and here).

Taking these spirals, curves and lines as a starting point, Hodgkin creates images that are partly digital, then inkjet printed at a fairly large scale and painted into with oil enamel or watercolor.

The resultant images carry some of the mathematical geometry of the original cloud chamber inspiration, imbued with the artist’s range of color and value choices, and are somewhere in between representational and non-representational, as well as in between art an science, and in between nature and imagination.

 
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60 Fractal Images

60 Fractal Images
I just love fractal generated images. These computer based images, crafted out of mathematical formulae, carry with them some of the visual characteristics of both natural forms and of abstract mathematical beauty. At their best, they resonate with a brain-tingling hint of infinity.

Dainis Graveris has collected 60 prime examples, in this case all generated using a freeeware flame fractal program called Apophysis (Windows only, unfortunately), and posted them on the 1stWebdesigner blog. The article is listed as “Part 1”, with the rest presumably to follow soon.

Many of the images are linked to larger versions, frequently on deviantART, that show some of their intricately recursive worlds-within-worlds details (see the detail of the last image, above).

Credits, in this case, are often just screen names. (Images above, Gibson125, babymilk and parablev.)

For more on fractal images, see my previous posts listed below, particularly my article on Benoit Mandelbrot.

Update Part 2 has been posted and is a list of links to 33 Apophysis tutorials.

 
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Genetic Programming: Evolution of Mona Lisa

Genetic Programming: Evolution of Mona Lisa
Trial and error.

What artist has not at some point resorted to “I’ll just try this and see if it looks better.“?

You might say that, in light of Darwin’s model of natural selection, nature itself does the same: make a genetic mutation or two, or a billion, and see what works.

Swedish programmer Roger Alsing has created a playful experiment in “genetic programming” applied to image making, in which he wrote a small program for rendering 50 translucent polygons into an image area.

He set it to mutate slightly with each iteration, so that each pass of the program produces a different distribution of the polygons (the “genetic mutation”).

The fact that the polygons are translucent allows for many smaller subtle shapes within the composition, produced by overlapping areas of color, like laying an area of yellow glaze over both blue and green shapes in an oil painting.

At the end of each rendering sequence, the program uses a “fitness function”, basically a small routine to compare the resultant image pixel by pixel with a target image, in this case an image of the Mona Lisa.

Based on the “fitness” of the image, the program keeps either the new “dna” or the existing “dna”, whichever is more like the target, as the basis of the next mutation and iteration.

Trial and error. Survival of the fittest.

There is a selection of images on Alsing’s blog showing various renders, from which I’ve pulled a few representative samples, above. (For those who are programmatically inclined, there is also a faq with some of the basics.)

Under each of the sample images is a filename that shows the number of times the program had to run to reach that particular image.

The one at bottom-right shows 904,314 incidences of “I’ll just try this and see if it looks better“.

[Via Kottke]

 
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Analog Photoshop Interface

Analog Photoshop Interface
As a long time Photoshop user, I just love this version of the Photoshop interface as represented by real-world objects.

It’s a poster for software-asli.com, the creative credits are: creative director : Hendra Lesmono, art director : Andreas Junus & Irawandhani Kamarga, copywriter : Darrick Subrata and photgrapher : Anton Ismael.

The mock up is actually quite large, as you can see in the accompanying Flickr set that shows how they assembled it. Be sure to view the full size image to get the real effect.

I love the little details like the fact that the grabber hand glove is smudged.

[Via BoingBoing]

 
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