Surf’s up

I’ve been surfing.  From the noisey beaches of Deviant Art to the silent shores of guano islands.  Every one here’s a gem to me.  Each one gleamed in its own way when I saw it.

Remember this:  There are things that can be bought for a few glass beads in the South Seas that can be sold for a king’s ransom back in Amsterdam.  But remember this also:  there are things that can be bought for a king’s ransom in Amsterdam that are worth nothing more than a few glass beads in the South Seas.

Click on any of the images to see them full-size and on their original website where you can browse more works by the artists.

The Complex by David Makin

Dave seems to make a very wide variety of fractal imagery and works almost entirely, I believe, in Ultra Fractal.  I’ve never seen anything quite like this.  A city of dreidels?  The surface texture suggest some old kind of nylon material.  There’s a strange vintage radio tube feeling to it.  Nice, subtle coloring that reinforces the 20s or 30s Art Deco style (before the time of brightly colored plastics).  A rather unique image with a similarly unique style.

Daniel White Julia Mode by Bent-Winged Angel

Strange electronic vibes and I like strange electronic vibes.  Perhaps an unusual image to draw attention to, but who cares about the usual images?  I suspect this one was uploaded as part of a discussion, but that just adds to it’s exotic allure.  Maybe Bent-Winged Angel wasn’t trying to make a piece of art with this one, but she did.  It splashes like water but turns into grains of sand around the edges.  Far out.

Graffiti by Talfrac

Talfrac adds that the image was made with Fractal Imaginator.  This is a program by Terry Gintz that I’ve never tried.  I like the clean, solid, silkscreen rendering style that the image has.  Sharp, crisp colors.  Anyone familiar with fractals will recognize the common organic structure to the image despite it’s very untraditional –vector-like– blocky rendering style.  This looks more “art gallery” like than most of the smooth, millions of colors fractal images normally seen.

20091226-1 by Samuel Monnier

Full color or black and white, a good image is simply a good image.  Art’s funny that way.  Working with the most advanced and feature rich formats doesn’t guarantee anything.  Of course there’s nothing simple or retro about this image here by Samuel Monnier.  It’s another example of his sophisticated pattern piling technique that he’s been polishing over the years and developing with Ultra Fractal.  Click on the image to go to the original site where you can explore the vast algorithmic world which we are only seeing as a mere thumbnail here.  There’s  so many interesting things to see in this one.  It’s like a table of contents for a large anthology.

FRAC-tional Friction by Lenord

This is a mandelbox, I’m guessing.  Not your average type of mandelbox and not the usual style.  Strong design is what makes this one special.  Everything lined up and arranged in a careful display of shape, form and symmetry –but with the usual mandelbox variations and complexity to it.  Look closely, is it really symmetrical?  anywhere?  All an artist really does is help us to see the great scenes going on around us that us common folks don’t seem to notice.  I think that’s what Lenord’s done with this one: he’s helped us to see the simple shapes and the sophisticated patterns made in the mandelbox by cutting out all the usual distractions of surface texture and wild, vast perspective.  Yes, art is complex, but only when you analyze it.  Out in the wild it’s natural and instinctive.  But that’s why it sneaks past us so easily.

Pipe Organ "Klais ' by DeadZero (on Deviant Art)

What are those men doing in a fractal?  Believe it or not, this is actually a photograph of a very elaborately designed pipe organ somewhere in Spain.  Or maybe it really is a fractal and the author cleverly edited the image?  Never let your right eye know what your left eye is looking at.

The Eye of Silence by Max Ernst (1944)

I often feel that fractal art is not really about fractals but is instead about “imaginary” imagery.  In that sense, there are many “pre-columbian” fractals out there; meaning they are graphically similar although completely unrelated in terms of the way they were made.  Fractals just make it easier to create imaginary imagery.  I guess it depends on how you chose to define the art form.  The lack of a fractal formula naturally makes it hard to call  “fractal”.  Well, in the old days fractal artists worked hard.  Try doing something like this.

Incendia Sketch by Kaeltyk (Deviant Art)

This one’s for real.  I stumbled on Kaeltyk’s Deviant Art gallery somehow.  I forget how.  Maybe from a link in someone else’s favorites?  Incendia does some nice things, but I’ve never seen such a good combination of 3D and 2D elements like there is in this one by Kaeltyk.  And it’s black and white, too.  Black and white is a whole new kind of color.  The uber-color.  It’s often thought of as being being feature-poor as opposed to feature-rich.  But all the colors in the world can’t do what black and white does.  More strangeness.

Tilings II by Kaeltyk

This one by Kaeltyk was done in Ultra Fractal.  I just like these peaceful drifting snowflakes and the different landscapes they seem to be falling and dissolving into.  It’s hard to crop out just the right piece from among such a huge mass of repeating imagery like this, but Kaeltyk did a good job here.  Very professional looking.  It deserves a classy title and black frame.

Shells by Kaeltyk

I would have guessed Incendia for this one, but Kaeltyk’s notes for this one indicate it was made with Xenodream.  I know these sorts of spirally seashell/horns are common and perhaps even cliche now, but Kaeltyk has managed to create something interesting and appealing even in such a heavily picked over genre.  In Kaeltyk’s own words, “I like how it’s clean and almost carved.”  That’s why I like it too.  The coloring and surface texture adds a lot as well.

Sky by Marco Gervasio (Flickr)

According to notes for this image it was made by “two pictures of the sky that I merged together and then reversed”.  I guess the inverting created the yell0w-orange coloring from the natural blue sky tones in the original.  I include this because it’s another “mind-bender” that show that when we look at graphical imagery and ignore how it was made, we find “fractals” in places we wouldn’t have expected.  Although the shapes and structure of clouds really are a natural form of fractal rendering.  I guess that just reinforces my point.

Sphere by spanzhang (Renderosity)

“FMF + POV-Ray”  POV-Ray is a ray-tracing (ultra realistic) program, but I’m not sure what FMF stands for.  I like planetoids and this one’s got some cool coloring and texture.  Looks like ice cream that’s just about to start dripping.  Incidently this was chosen for a Fractal Window Weekly on Renderosity a year and a half ago.  I visited, the so-called Chinese Fractal Art Society and I think maybe Ferry Man Fractal is the mysterious “FMF”.  I’ve never heard of the program, so maybe spanzhang made it himself?

Rings and Wires by spanzhang

By spanzhang again.  He’s got a gallery at  This one’s made with Apophysis.  Nice design with repeating circular elements and good colors.

Onceinalifetimesingle by Anonymous

Yes, people used to dream of such imaginary, fractal-like imagery way back in the 70s.  But it’s not merely once in a lifetime today; it’s everyday and all the time.  Music’s gotten a lot cheaper now too.  Hasn’t it?  And who needs to pay to get great artwork for their album covers nowadays with all this computer made stuff around?  “And you may ask yourself…” how come nobody sings about having mental breakdowns and emotional decay anymore?

Seed Bead Fractals by Shala Kerrigan

Check out the nice set of instructions Shala has made to go with this example of Fractal Earrings.  “Fractals are geometric patterns that show self-similarity, they can be very complex and really beautiful.”  Doesn’t that statement by Shala answer the proverbial, “What are fractals?” question quite nicely?

You can also bead fractals. This is a pair of earrings that uses a very simple fractal pattern to create a delicate fringe or tassel that resembles some of the fractals you can see in nature like trees or the veins in your body.
The shape I used was 3 lines. Each time you add another set of 3 lines to the ends of the lines, that’s called an iteration.

For folks like myself such descriptions are more enlightening than those of the more technical type.  You’d think by now I’d know what a fractal is.  But I keep finding fractals that don’t fit the formulas.  Never let your left brain know what you’re right brain is thinking.

You’ll only end up slapping yourself in the face.

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5 thoughts on “Surf’s up

  1. A very nice gallery (excluding my picture…)! The Face of War by Salvador Dalì is a great example of fractal art: so, fractal art is not only that produced with fractal programs.

  2. That’s a great example of “pre-columbian” fractal art. And by Dali, too. Thanks for the link, guys. I’d never seen that Dali painting before. That is a seriously frightening illustration of war. I guess Dali and Picasso had something in common as artists.

    @Rebecca: thanks for filling me in on FMF. It’s good to see that fractals are still inspiring developers to make programs. The fractal world is such a big place.

  3. Nice, varied collection. I agree with your statement, “But all the colors in the world can’t do what black and white does.” Anyone who doubts that should look at Ansel Adams’ work–compare his very dramatic black and white images with his mundane, almost boring, color photos. There is (can be) something very special about black and white, which is why I work with it so often.

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