Beneath the pixelation

Categories JWildfire

Whatever 17

Not long ago I read Tim Hodkinson referred to fractals as a medium in one of his Orbit Trap posts. Initially I thought I’d had to disagree with that notion based on the now classic analogy of fractal art and photography: if that were true, people must be the medium of portraiture –wouldn’t they?– and I’ve never heard photographers or painters refer to their clients or models as their medium (maybe out of respect because now I think they are, but keep reading). So in that sense, since fractals were the subjects of my pictures, not the channel through which I digitally paint them, I thought they shouldn’t fall into that mundane classification. The medium of a fractal artist should be, to my obtuse mind, the computer and the fractal generator, the two most obvious instruments of the genre.

After getting to that point, though, I questioned to myself: But what about fractal formulas? Aren’t they at the top of the chain of this artistic expression? If fractals are defined by mathematical functions, and those are the quintessence of this art form, then it would be reasonable to include these algorithms as part of the medium, as the building blocks of fractal kin-dome. This idea would be in accordance with Hodkinson’s point of view.

Normally, a fractal picture –at least the ones shown in this website– only reproduces a section, a very minuscule portion enlarged many, many times, of a broader figure (that larger frame would be a pure fractal, as the graphical representation of the set of all points comprising the function that defines the given domain). In that regard, real fractals, as the foundation of fractal artworks, would indeed be part of the medium, while what we call fractal pictures would result in a collection of fractal slices chosen and arranged according to someone’s aesthetic perceptions.

Thus, all in all, my fractals are only images depicting “body parts” of fractal formulas. The way I come up with them –by exploring their digital medium– seems to me, and to many others, somewhat akin to the process of taking pictures through a microscope: photographing beings that are well alive in their own sub-visible world (the one we routinely ignore because our limited eyesight can’t detect it). While I zoom deep into the fractal plane, I imagine that I discover –or would it be more likely uncover?– beneath that first level of stucco pixelation, the basic contours of self-repeating patterns on the screen: distinct forms, strange, bizarre as they are, belonging to a fractal set that is revealed to my eyes through the essence of light and color.