Monday, July 31, 2006

Who am I and what is this?

Everybody knows Terry, but what about me, Igor.

I like fractals.

I like words and pictures. Like Dick and Perry, together they form a third personality. Illustrated, illuminated, an alloy.

I like machines that make pictures. Preferably ones with fewer buttons that enslave the computer, harnessing clever algorithms and making them do all the work, like some computerized Rumplestiltskin turning digital straw into digital gold, which I then write my name on.

This is a blog, but a blog is just more webspace. Text, images, links. From those three ingredients you can make a lot of things.

It could be a magazine written one article at a time on a long roll of web paper. The articles could be provocative editorials evoking hundreds of comments, or just a poem that leaves the reader inspired, but silent.

Reflections, anecdotes, a fractal from your gallery and your thoughts about how it was made and what excites you about it. Or talk about someone else's work...

A fractal math lesson; the challenges of writing fractal programs; what's on the software horizon?; how was a program made and what makes it unique?; is there anything that hasn't been done yet?

It could be some "thing" none of us have ever thought of yet.

"Revolving around Fractal Art" The contributors can decide for themselves the fractal art connection. If they see one, that's good enough for me.

Fractal art starts with math: the seeds of fractals. Programming with computers provides the greenhouse environment for the seeds to sprout. Different programming: different varieties of fractal life. The artists come next, some just photograph, some create more complex imagery, some just wander and wonder, drinking in the new world around them.

It would be great to hear all of them talk and write something about it: The Annotated Book of Fractals.

From mathematicians who understand fractal art's origins; to programmers who make fractal art possible; to artists who make and present fractal art to us; to "explorers" who've made unique fractal discoveries; and even to critics who merely reflect upon fractal art and sometimes give it new direction...

All those orbits, passing through here.

In the words of Aristotle, "Let 'er rip."

No. In the words of Job, "That which I have feared has come upon me."

That's not it either.

In the words of Woody Allen, "Where does he get off taking all his personal problems and pawning them off as art?"

Anyhow. Welcome to this new thing.

I'll talk about myself some other time. Or you can go here.

Oh, and the "Igor" thing was just a joke. Me and Terry work as a team. Although, I suppose, some might call him Dr. Frankenstein...

Many thanks to Mindy for the top header image and the stylish typography. I like that sci-fi, fractal from outer space look.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

The Passion of R2D2

The Passion of R2D2

The Passion of R2D2 (2006)

I know what you're thinking. Why does the Stars Wars droid who burps in squelches deserve a passion? Passions are reserved for gods and geniuses. Christ. Van Gogh -- or, at least, Kirk Douglas playing him in Lust for Life. Bardot. Charo. Camille Paglia. Courtney Love (or is the passion aligned against her?). But R2 of the metallic blinking swivelling head? Surely not.

Au contraire. Trust yr. blogger. There's more than cuddly Ewoks in the dark pockets of the Net. Dare we venture where the Force is no match for the dressed-in-white-plastic armies of sarcasm?

From Big, Fat, Stinking Software -- the complete review of Sim R2D2, v.2.0:

Randomly plays R2D2 sounds.

Use it to annoy your coworkers.

Got it? I suspect that's the same feeling I experienced when a "friend" gave my young daughter one of those cheapo cassette players with a plastic mic.

What's sadder, I suppose, is that my daughter is now heading off for college -- but I still sometimes haul the Belle boombox to my poetry readings -- for, you know, enhanced "360 stereo sound" effects.

Meanwhile, the anti-R2 League of Extraordinary Geeks has a full battery pack of complaints:

Like this comment in the form of a short screenplay by Star Wars Commentary -- seen on Robot Tees who ask "Is It Okay to Kill Robots?"

Darth Vader: Luke, I am your father.

Luke Skywalker: NO!!!!!!!!!!! Wait. What...?

Darth Vader:
I said I'm your father.

Luke Skywalker:
I heard what you said, but a Robot can't have a human son, silly Darth Vader. Therefore, you must die.

Darth Vader
: NO!!!!!!!!!

Sound Effects: (Darth Vader dying) Slash! Whoom! Clash!

Luke Skywalker: Took you long enough. Heh...

R2D2: beep beep blop bloop blep (Why have you done this? Why did you kill my father?)

Luke Skywalker: You have seen too much now you must die.

Sound Effects: (R2D2 dying) Slash. Sparkle.

Luke Skywalker: Stupid Robots. Anyone else?

I've burned out and I can't get up...

Please can you stop the noise
I'm trying to get some rest...

--Radiohead, "Paranoid Android"

[Image seen on "The Graveyard" at BattleBricks]

And you don't want to know some of the enhanced interrogation techniques Jar Jar gets put through.

But to actually have a capital P Passion, R2's iconic circuits must fail less than Windows and have profoundly influenced popular culture. Imitators abound -- from Buck Rogers' cloying Twinkie to James Cameron's "I'll be back" (in California) Terminator to the new improved Battlestar Galactica's sexy, boltless, buff Cylons. But what influenced George Lucas to power up his feedback-gurgling robot in the first place? From we just make it all up as we go along Wikipedia:

Some people believe George Lucas got the look for his robot from a vacuum cleaner. It was Rexair's Rainbow model D2, sold between 1959 and 1969. This was parodied in an episode of That 70's Show in a Star Wars themed dream Eric Forman was having. In the dream, Kitty Forman, dressed as a Rebel pilot, is using R2D2 as a vacuum cleaner before using the blue dot on top of R2D2's head to turn it off so she could answer the door. This is also parodied in the opening sequence of Tripping the Rift.

Often imitated.  Never duplicated.

Suck it up, boys. I clean the galaxy for no (hu)man.

[Image seen on Images de Star Wars!!!]

So, clearly, spirit and funds willing, Mel Gibson could easily have another "passion" smashed film project. Just be sure to take his keys before he insists on driving the X-Wing Fighter home.


Today's image is fairly new and rendered in QuaSZ before being beat around its titanium temples in Photoshop and Painter. Buzz Pro and Lucis' Sculpture also helped to prevent rust.

Cross-posted to Blog with a View.


I know Tim will jump on soon and post his own welcome, but while I'm on the line here...

I'd like to greet everyone and say thanks -- to contributors, to commenters, and to readers.

You know what's really cool? Tim and I never officially "opened" Orbit Trap. As people agreed to give of their time and participate, they took the initiative -- forged ahead -- started posting. I love that. Meanwhile, Tim and I are playing catch-up and still "tweaking" both the blog's look and the contributor's list. Look for more on both fronts in the days ahead.

So, now that we've started, what can you expect to find on Orbit Trap? Well, our main banner says (or will shortly -- we're still decorating) "revolving around fractal art." The broad scope is deliberate. Still, in general, give us a hint as to what kinds of postings might pop up? Here's a few possibilities we mentioned to potential contributors:

Fractal Topics: --math, --programming, --software review, --theory, -- history, --research, --ties to other disciplines, --links with the natural world, and so on.

Fractal Art Topics: --examples/images, --discussion, --commentary, --process descriptions, --website reviews, -- art communities, --promotion, --prints, --standards, --ethics, -- favorite works, --idle musings, --funny stories, and so on.

Digital Art/Computer Graphics Topics: -- post-processing, --tutorials, --formulae, --enhancement/rendering strategies, and so on.

But there's nothing prescriptive -- no etched stones. The contributors have carte blanche to explore and examine on their own terms and using whatever creative methods they wish. I think it's a safe bet readers will be viewers, too. And there won't be any shortage of art. Or writing either -- whether technical, expository, creative, or other. Or tones. Or ideas. Or, sometimes, disagreements. Or, ideally, mutual respect.

Tim and I hope readers will also feel free to participate and collaborate in our lively experiment. Comments are switched on for a reason. And I really like what Lynne said earlier about feeling the loss of fun. Fun. I remember fun. Bring it on.

One more thing. Shakespeare once asked, "What's in a name?" Tim and I thought about calling this place something practical like The Fractal Blog or whatever. We kicked around some ideas and finally settled on Orbit Trap. As Tim said to me in an email: "Orbit Trap is quickly identified by fractalists as being fractal-related. Also, to me, Orbit Trap suggests a collecting or gathering of different, diverging movements into a single place, and that's one of the purposes of the blog: to bring together members of an artform that is diverging but still has a common origin."

What he said.

But...we did consider a few other potential blog names that were voted off the island. Here's a short list:

Iterate This!!
Seahorse Valley
All Brots, No Wieners
Let's Bitch About Julia
BailOut Now
MySelf Similar
Deeper Zoom
Hyper But Complex
You Don't Know Quat
Biomorph Hunt
Spawn of Newton
Lsystem Failure
A Semi-Solid Guess
Z-Real Thing

See? The atmosphere could have been much much worse...

Orbit Trapped

hello all.

this perhaps will be an interesting project, it may well resemble the "good old days" of fractal discussion in the old newsgroups circa mid-80's/early-90's. that was a happy time.. fractals were something new and finding people who created them or wrote software to create them with was quite heady. it was fun. whatever happened to fun? somehow all that changed and everyone went running off to various groups, software affiliations and such - and most communication stopped. oh well, things can always easily change again and perhaps it will be here. i hope so.

i have been in a "fractal drought" for a few years due to various things - life has not been very easy, that perhaps is a big factor. it all gives me what would be the equal to writers block. i've also been very frustrated with the past two computers. ye olde windoze 98 machine had too much limit on needed memory and the current windoze xp media edition one is "draggy" even though all software auto-checks are turned off. (anyone have a big sledge hammer?)

it really doesn't matter right now, so little time to be online and having "fractal block" can really help a person ignore the tech issues. as for software preferences when there was much more time and inspiration to create images, i am/was/am an omnivore. that means i really can't and won't take sides here - it may be a help or a detriment, no?

as usual, my time online is done.. back to the drudge of the chores that keep me on a short leash.

(wow, this is the most i've said in public in ages!!!!)

Howdy everyone :)

I just wanted to check in and say hello to all my old friends (with a special hug for the lovely Panny, who I miss lots) and I hope to make some new ones, too. :)

How neat is it that the first post included a stunning fractal by the incredibly talented Mr. Northover. Just beautiful.

I think Terry and Tim have created something that is long overdue: a bonafide community where honest, open and respectful discussion about fractal and digital-driven art can thrive. There really is a need for such a community, nothing like it exists anywhere on the web. (Nah, Renderosity does not count, that's more of a "great job!" comment fest pond ensconced in the middle of a Poser sea ;)).

Tina Coggins and I tried to create such a place at FAR, but when we didn't post, nobody else did either, and after a while we didn't have the time to dedicate to oiling its wheels. Having run some successful (and some unsuccessful) discussion communities online, I have learned that the most important thing for it to endure is for people to consistently contribute. Post, post post! Don't lurk, say something. Share a thought, an idea, a resource, a new project. That is the lifesblood of any community, and if everyone's in lurk mode, it won't thrive. So if you're in lurk mode now, register and post. :)

Maybe a "getting to know you" thread might be nice to start off with. I know some of you but not all, and would love to learn more about all of you and have the opportunity to see your work as well if you have it online. I'll start: my name is Mindy Sommers, I am happily married to a Texan I adore. I am originally from New York City. We live in Vermont with two cats in a huge old house that is painted purple inside and out. We run a home-based business, Color Bakery, which is based on my art. I am 46 (gaaahhhh) and clearly remember huckapoo blouses and water buffaloes and the Sonny and Cher Show.

Now tell us about you :) And welcome to everyone, I look forward to reading your posts and seeing all your beautiful art. :)


Saturday, July 29, 2006

ICM 2006 Benoit Mandelbrot Fractal Art Contest


In association with the International Congress of Mathematicians to be held later this year an international Fractal Art contest took place in the honour of Benoit Mandelbrot the "father" of Fractals and a speaker at the ICM.

The winners of the contest can be seen here:

All the contest entries can be viewed here:


First post - Hello all

Hi there, just taking the opportunity to great y'all. At the moment I'm trying to do the impossible and find a general algebraic solution to cubics that doesn't require the usual substitution - may not sound particularly fractal related, but it is the way I'm investigating it :-)

PCs dream of electric sheep

CNet Article

HiFiDreams Project site

SETI style collaborative art (30,000 computers and people)
Rather fractal like. Maybe they run Apophysis!?

Friday, July 28, 2006

First post

I'd like to thank Terry and Tim for inviting me to the blog. Looking forward to reading some interesting posts. I'm going to try and post a pic... been a while... fire up old gen... rummage around for some maps... do I still remember this stuff? upload... preview... well, if it crashes the blog, feel free to edit/delete!