Life and Fractals



Is there life after Fractals?

Perhaps a better question would be "Is there life without Fractals?" I've been writing fractal programs for close to twenty years, and you'd think that the magic of fractals would have worn out by now. But just as there are new books being published every day, so too there seems to be new pages to turn to that are full of fascinating fractals. In fact, though my fractal-program writing seems to be on the wane, anything that catches my interest these days has fractal written all over it. And I'm not just talking about the classic examples of fractals, which are referred to in the last link, but also the core themes in contemporary life. Since the world trends to materialism so much lately, it would be wise to include in this scenario all artifacts made from stone or wood, of which my wife and I have accumulated a lot both in our travels and in my lapidary creations (note the carvings gallery for more examples.)

So you might ask what the fractal generators have to do with this (of which you have a whole slew of to choose from on the Programs page) when life seems to be chock full of fractals anyway? I like to think that these programs give you a starting point for your own fractal creations. Of course you can use them to generate pretty pictures to display on your own website, or you can do something really creative and use them to generate templates for actual fractals you create with your own two hands. In the former case, the programs will almost run themselves, generating random image after random image semi-automatically, at the touch of a button or a menu selection. (See the program descriptions for complete details.) In the latter case, you might need some sort of applied artistic bent, besides blogging or text-messaging. Most any hands-on hobby will do. In my own case, having an inclination toward the lapidary arts, and carving in particular, I finally got around to modeling fractals in stone, with the aid of a tile saw (for roughing) and a Foredom flex tool (for detailing and finishing.) It also helps to have a quaternion generator like QuaSZ to produce 3-D images to work from. Generally it takes several views, top, side, front, back, etc. to fully reveal a 3-D fractal, and since quaternions tend to be very complex but less so with decreased iterations, it's useful to print a set of views varying the cycles from low to high. Then you can nibble away at the stone to whatever complexity or accuracy is needed. Since most carving material has a fractal consistency from the minerals dispersed in them, I don't demand a carbon copy of any 3-D fractal in my finished carvings. Rather I look on them as "inspired" by the fractals that were computer generated.

Obviously the lapidary arts aren't the only way to model fractals. You could do the same by carving wood, or throwing a clay figure, or making a wax to turn into a silver or brass ornament. If you have access to a 3-D printer, you could export a 3-D object file from one of my programs and use that to generate a metal version of it, as Bathsheba Grossman does with Rhinoceros. If baking is your forte, how about baking a quaternion bread or cake? (I've seen bears and alligators modeled with bread dough, so why not a fractal?) If you're handy with the string arts, why not try to crochet or knit a fractal? Ditto for macrame. Modeling in resin is also a possibility.

What you do with fractals doesn't have to be limited to 2-D computer prints, or mug or T-shirt images, or heaven forbid, locked forever inside a computer screen. Enjoy my galleries, yes, then go out and make fractals that really happen.