Sunday, October 08, 2006

Retrospective (Part Two) - An Affair With Popcorn

I've gotten a lot of use out of Popcorn and derivative formulas. It seems very expressive, although one has to wonder whether simulated expression has any meaning. At first I just used it as a base on which to run various coloring algorithms, but after studying the work of Paul Carlson I had an idea: why not use Popcorn itself as an orbit trap?

Kafka's Bouquet (1999)
The next step had to wait until I understood Ultra Fractal transforms, and when I did, of course, I had to use Popcorn as the basis for one. The image below stirred up dim memories of looking through my mother's art books when I was young. I gave it its name without really consciously knowing what it referred to.

After the Rain (1999)
The rediscovery of Max Ernst and the fractal nature of much of his work (which I've talked about in a previous post) led me to emulate - but hopefully not simply imitate - his work. The addition of background skies to my "gnarlscapes" required the writing of complicated masking transforms which ran Julia sets with orbit traps distorted by Popcorn (jobs usually covered by the different formula types in Ultra Fractal)

The Song of Time (1999)
Eventually I felt I was just repeating myself and had to move on. Popcorn appeared again as another orbit trap, this time with fBm mapped on to the elements. Mapping textures on to the elements of orbit traps was something that I'd experimented way back in the original Popcorn Orbit Trap (which has a "Martin" coloring mode), but fBm was much more useful. Damien Jones supplied the fBm code (which was something of a tour de force of Ultra Fractal programming at the time)

Sunday Morning (2000)
Apophysis kept me occupied for a couple of years, and with that I was really just adding a GUI to things that other people had already done. Eventually I felt confident enough to add my own variation (although Scott Draves did "fix" it). I hadn't forgotten Popcorn.

Confusion (2004)
Sometimes I wonder if Popcorn has become a cliche (or perhaps, to put it in a better light, one of Kerry's "standards"). It can simulate expression, but what does that matter when it is the same expression over and over again? However, since it inspired much of my best work I don't think I'll ever be able to give it up entirely.

Journey (2006)


Blogger Guido said...

Very good text as an opportunity to know your search for a new imagery on fractals. I found Journey very impelling in the meaning that an unexplored sense of space in our medium is being opened after Sprite. What I saw is an allegory of the fragmentation of the sight before the destructive "latency" of a system´s totality. At the same time Journey is the desconstruction of the vision and reorganization of the visual field, where the sight "recognizes" on both acts that "form" is a paradox of articulated divergences.

10/09/2006 10:05 AM

Blogger John S. Meade said...

Question (pulled from the contribution):

"It can simulate expression, but what does that matter when it is the same expression over and over again?"

Reply (Probably because I just started reading Pickover's book about Sex, Drugs, Einstein and Elves and happen to be muddling through the language part)

Same thing can be said about popular music. Limited number of notes, limited number of words and pretty much the same expression over and over again. And yet apparently endless variety and entertainment and that literally magical phenomenon -- once you "get it" the words and the music become irrelevant.

The Beatles said the same thing twelve times just on their first album alone!

Now out there is some heretofore unknown meaning that pushes the appreciation of life up a few levels. Makes breathing even more worthwhile and refreshes our being.
We all know it's there -- we just don't know* exactly where -- or what. But occasionally we get glimpses and we get this wierd urge to report -- to share. So say we write it down in our initially acquired language. And that in turn gets "translated" into other languages where it acquires nuances and shadings until one day it reaches a critical mass so to speak and a crack in our collective egg(sperience) appears. And we all progress.

Taken in that light even if it's apparent to you that it's the same thing over again, the subtle difference*** you perceive might just be radical enough that the next viewer "gets it" and their life is richer. Just like what happened between you and your Mom's art books.

Nobody ever said to Picasso "Hey Pablo, ol' buddy, that one's pretty darn cool.
Paint that one again!

Forgetting for the moment that we are all hopelessly addicted to it, whatever are we all trying to do with this fractal art stuff anyway? Except report the glimpses?

A picture is worth a thousand words, and a really wierd picture** is as good as any hammer on the breakfast table.

And then, speaking of pictures, there is the Chick-Flick. Pass the popcorn... I mean, >Please< pass the popcorn, dear.

*Those who do...don't.
**Alex Grey for example.
***There's this wonderful phenomenon called a "tweak"

10/09/2006 10:25 AM

Blogger Garth Thornton said...

I also regard your popcorn, gnarl and vine work as most inspiring. It spurred me to implement similar transforms in XenoDream. I think there's plenty of scope for variation in these kind of formulas and intend to blog about it sooner or later. One idea that has worked well is cylindrical coordinates, resulting in gnarly vases. Perhaps there is a Townsend formula waiting to be discovered somewhere nearby.

10/10/2006 3:44 AM

Blogger Mark Townsend said...

I'll be interested in seeing gnarly vases.

I should have stated in the main article that the Popcorn formula comes from...

Clifford Pickover

One of giants of fractal art (think "epsilon cross"). The term "giant" of course, refers to those mythical beings who existed before we poor mortals came into being.

The terms "Vine" and "Gnarl" for Popcorn derivative formulas came from...

Rudy Rucker

He also happens to be one of my favourite science fiction authors.

10/10/2006 8:18 AM


Post a Comment

<< Home