Phase Two: Byte 2

Three Gravity Stools by Jólan van der Wiel

Three Gravity Stools by Jólan van der Wiel

[Click on images to view full size.]


Tim’s third eye opened (again) and recently puzzled out the mysteries of fractal art’s Phase Three. But I’m still mired in the cryptic borders and physical parameters not found in strictly digital renders but made possible only in Phase Two. Physical space, I argued recently, cannot capture the sensation of recursive infinity as easily and as forcefully as does digitally-made fractal art. RL spaces, however, provide more tangible avenues of nuance and suggestion and absence than is generally found in digital expressions. In the continuing hope of opening doors for embracing the worth of fractal constructions created using mediums found in the fine arts, here’s what I’ve bookmarked lately…


Purple Gravity Stool by Jólan van der Wiel 

Purple Gravity Stool by Jólan van der Wiel

Amsterdam-based artist Jólan van der Wiel is the brainchild behind these Alice in Wonderlandish "gravity stools." The shapes found in his sculptures remind me of quaternion forms I’ve seen often in fractal programs like Terry W. Gintz‘s remarkable Quasz. Randi Greenberg, writing on Co.Design, sketches out van der Wiel’s process:

Van der Wiel created a machine–something of an anti-vise–with magnets situated opposite each other. To build a stool, he inserts a concoction of plastics and iron filings (more than 13 pounds per stool!) in the machine’s mold. Then, he slowly draws back the upper portion of the machine. As the material stretches with the magnetic pull, fractal patterns (think: Superman’s Fortress of Solitude) emerge in what become the legs of the stool. The overall shape of the chair is determined by where Van der Wiel places the magnets. Each piece takes about 20 minutes.

Van der Wiel is also able to create other forms, like bowls and candlelabra, and hopes to soon enlarge his machine to make dandier designs like tables.

Jólan van der Wiel at work. 

In the studio with Jólan van der Wiel.

Van der Wiel has recontextualized nature and tells Co.Design that "this is a departure from the idea that everything is influenced by gravity." These pieces certainly float my tanker.


I wrote about Chinese artist and dissident Ai WeiWei last time and referenced a sculpture of his entitled Bicycles. I see he’s upped the recursive ante in his most recent piece.

Forever Bicyles by Ai Wei Wei 

Forever Bicyles by Ai WeiWei

I think we all better start pedaling faster.


Fractal Pecan Pie 

Anyone up for some fractal pecan pie left over from the holidays?

Seen on Indestructibles.

Baker Turkey Tek says his objective for baking this giant Koch Snowflake pecan pie for Thanksgiving in 2004 was "bringing technology to this traditional celebration of excess." Apparently, shaping a metalwork of a 768-sided pie pan using handtools like a shear and a nibbler can prove hazardous. Tek explains:

The thing they don’t tell you about fractals is just how sharp and dangerous they are. I mean, you think you have a pretty good grasp of the mathematical analysis but until a piece of metal with a very high perimeter to surface area ratio tears into your flesh, you’re really missing intuitive appreciation for objects that lack continuous derivatives almost everywhere.

 Baking a fractal pecan pie.

Bake infinitely. Serve.

To better prevent kitchen accidents be sure to always enshroud your fractal pecan pie in a nuclear plant containment building. That way your pie filling won’t burn to uttermost over-recursion and become fissionable.


 Large Hadron Collider

Look at this big fractal-honking thing.

The Large Hadron Collider.

Until I saw a photograph of the Large Hadron Collider, I had no idea how incredibly fractal it looked. The collider, a tunnel running eighteen miles and buried near the French-Swiss border, and one of the most expensive objects ever built, bashes proton beams together at nearly light speed, thus simulating conditions existing immediately after the Big Bang. The collider has been in the news lately for its assistance in ferreting out the Higgs boson, or so-called "God particle." Why is this discovery sort of a big scientific deal? Belle News provides the cosmic big picture:

The Higgs boson is regarded – by those who know about such things – as the key to understanding the universe. Its job is, apparently, to give the particles that make up atoms their mass.

Without this mass, these particles would zip though the cosmos at the speed of light, unable to bind together to form the atoms that make up everything in the universe, from planets to people.

The Higgs boson’s existence was predicted in 1964 by Edinburgh University physicist Peter Higgs. But it has eluded previous searchers – so much so that not all scientists believe in its existence.

The hunt for the Higgs boson was one of the LHC’s major tasks.

 Interior shot of Large Hadron Collider.

Let there be light.

Interior shot of the Large Hadron Collider.

I swear the image above could just as well come out of the Mandelbulb Renderings section over at FractalForums.


Day 3: Land and Sea by Alex Beattie 

Day 3: Land and Sea by Alex Beattie

Seen on Erman Tapestry.

I saw the image above standing out from the clutter of an ad seen in last week’s Newsweek. It comes from a needlepoint kit called The Creation Series designed by Alex Beattie. His ferns and leaves radiate a definite fractal vibe.

Best of all, you can purchase the kit for yourself and furiously stitch by numbers. Just think of it as a kind of batch render.


 Ruins by Talkdemonic.  Cover art by Tim Hodkinson.

Ruins by Talkdemonic. Cover art by Tim Hodkinson.

Tim’s had some good news on the art front lately, although he’s too humble to talk about it himself, so the task falls to me. Talkdemonic, an avant-instrumental band from Portland, Oregon, has chosen Tim’s artwork for the cover of their latest recording.

Even more impressive, the band has been projecting huge laser-renders of Tim’s Kandid genetic art IFS images as a collaged backdrop during their recent live shows. And they’ve been touring with the likes of Modest Mouse and The Flaming Lips. I probably don’t need to remind most of you that these latter bands are major recording artists. The Flaming Lips, especially, are well known for their musical experimentation and stunning stage shows. I’d posture a guess that Tim’s work was recently seen by more people than if it had been parked on the wall of a museum for fifty years.

Naturally, I find this turn of Tim’s work being blown up to extra large scale in real life to be just a tinge amusing. After all, he and I once had a back-and-forth debate (beginning here) about the relative merits of whether digital/fractal art is best seen on monitors or on walls. I made the argument for commencing to perceive fractal/digital art in what I called "wall mode," which I described as

working large from the start with the intention of eventually making a fine art print

and I just want to take this OT moment to softly remind Tim of what he said nearly two years ago:

The other thing is: I consider the computer monitor to be a adequate “canvas”. I guess that’s why I consider the parameter file, generated world, to be the only real zoom or exploration that counts. If someone was to print out my images and see something more, or less, than is visible on the computer screen, I’d say stop looking at prints and stick to what you see on your monitor — that’s the real thing.

so you can see why I find it ironic and amusive that Tim has leapfrogged over wall mode and landed squarely in mural mode.

And I couldn’t be happier for him. He decidedly deserves the recognition — and more.

And his experience shows that the options opening for projecting even small-scale digital work are becoming manageable. That curtain raising threshold eradication should excite all of us. Tim reminded me in an email that his projected originals only clocked in at 768X768 pixels jpegs and observed that Talkdemonic’s laser show is

a good example of how digital can be a real surprise; it’s the exact opposite kind of venue that I’d ever guess such strictly monitor images would ever appear in.  It was like they jumped off a cellphone and onto a building.

Tim’s artwork can be selectively glimpsed backing up the band in both of the following videos:


For years, gentle readers, Tim and I have listened to some of Orbit Trap’s detractors tell us that we’re nothing but whiners and complainers who do nothing but engage in empty talk and make art that sucks. The latest comments from the barren deviantART nest of Piranha (scroll here) are merely the latest iteration. Of course, anyone is free to openly dislike our work and within his or her rights to publicly and savagely criticize it. But I’d urge circumspection before assuming that either of us are somehow less than other working professional artists in our community — or before too hastily denigrating without scrutiny our mutual and imaginative passion for blogging, art criticism, and creative writing.