Fractal art  

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

Fractal art is a form of algorithmic art created by calculating fractal objects and representing the calculation results as still images, animations, and media. Fractal art is usually created indirectly with the assistance of fractal-generating software, iterating through three phases: setting parameters of appropriate fractal software, executing the possibly lengthy calculation and evaluating the product. In some cases, other graphics programs are used to further modify the images produced. This is called post-processing.


Fractals of all four kinds have been used as the basis for digital art and animation. Starting with 2-dimensional details of fractals, such as the Mandelbrot Set, fractals have found artistic application in fields as varied as texture generation, plant growth simulation and landscape generation.

Fractals are sometimes combined with human-assisted evolutionary algorithms, either by iteratively choosing good-looking specimens in a set of random variations of a fractal artwork and producing new variations, to avoid dealing cumbersome or unpredictable parameters, or collectively, like in the Electric Sheep project, where people use fractal flames rendered with distributed computing as their screensaver and "rate" the flame they are viewing, influencing the server, which reduces the traits of the undesirables, and increases those of the desirables to produce a computer-generated, community-created piece of art.


The first fractal image that was intended to be a work of art, seems to be the famous image on the cover of Scientific American, August 1985. This image showed a landscape formed from the potential function on the domain outside the (usual) Mandelbrot set. However, as the potential function grows fast near the boundary of the Mandelbrot set, it was necessary for the creator to let the landscape grow downwards, so that it looked as if the Mandelbrot set was a plataeu atop a mountain with steep sides. The same technique was used a year after in some images in Peitgen & Richter: The Beauty of Fractals (1986).

In this book you can find a formula to estimate the distance from a point outside the Mandelbrot set to the boundary of the Mandelbrot set (and a similar formula for the Julia sets), and one can wonder why the creator did not use this function instead of the potential function, because it grows in a more natural way (see the formula in the articles Mandelbrot set and Julia set).

The three pictures show landscapes formed from the distance function for a family of iterations of the form <math>z^{2} + az^{4} + c</math>. If, in a light from the sun. Then we imagine the rays are parallel (and given by two angles), and we let the colour of a point on the surface be determined by the angle between this direction and the slope of the surface at the point. The intensity (on the earth) is independent of the distance, but the light grows whiter because of the atmosphere, and sometimes the ground looks as if it is enveloped in a veil of mist (second picture). We can also let the light be "artificial", as if it issues from a lantern held by the observer. In this case the colour must grow darker with the distance (third picture).

See also

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Fractal art" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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