Thursday, January 11, 2007

The Road To Chaos

Butterfly Dream - My first published image from 2002

I have read many stories about how various people became interested in fractals. Mine is a bit different. I have always felt that I had the spirit of an artist, but unfortunately, I have the hands of a klutz. My eye has always appreciated beauty, but my hands could produce only mud. Ok, that's not quite true, but nearly. I tried learning to play an instrument. I dabbled in oil painting. I labored at calligraphy. I attempted watercolor painting. As for photography, I was equally bad on both sides of the camera. I always had the vision, but I could never make the tools work. One day, I found out something about myself that I had never known. Mothers are always doing things to help their children in school. Another mother and I were getting props ready for the spring performance of the school chorus. One of the songs was to be concluded with each of the children holding the end of a rolled up streamer and throwing the rest of it into the air. She and I were rolling streamers. We chatted pleasantly as we performed this task and I was enjoying her company. I suddenly realized that she was rolling her pile of streamers much more quickly than I was. I nearly dismissed that by thinking that they must not be done very neatly done when I examined them a bit closer and found them perfect. Mine, done more slowly and with great care, looked lumpy and uneven. It finally made sense to me. You know that most of the time, no matter what your state of being is, it is normal to you. My epiphany was that I had clumsy and untalented hands, bad small muscle control. No wonder I struggled to perform small tasks when others did them with ease. Oh I could eventually learn to be adequate at some things, but it took much work and much time to get to that level.

Meanwhile... I had seen fractals, had been seeing them for some years. I had not worked anywhere that allowed internet usage, and did not have a home computer, so I didn't know anything about the various fractal programs that were available, and I had limited computer skills anyway. Mostly I knew spreadsheets, word processing and accounting programs. I remember having a calendar with fractals for each month and marvelling at their intricacy and brilliant colors. I actually found it about a year ago, packed in a box of mementos, it was very basic 'classical' fractals, mainly mandelbrots, but to me when I got it, it was marvelous.

When I finally did get access to the internet, I spent about a year just exploring the 'information highway', and learning my way around. One day, I remembered fractals, and went looking for them. I found FracTint (actually WinFract) and played with it a bit, but was never happy with anything I made there, the colors seemed a bit garish to me and I never got the hang of using the gradient properly. I set it aside for a while, occasionally revisiting it. At some point, I found a reference to UltraFractal and went looking for it. I downloaded UF2 and fell in love. The gradient made sense to me! I actually felt in control. I went thru the tutorials, downloaded everything mentioned on the website and jumped in with both feet. Finally, I had found the tools that worked for me. I built up a folder of images and wondered what to do next. The logical step was to find somewhere to display my images so I could show them to my friends and family. I found that and more, a community of people who gave me tips on how to use the tools even better. I haven't looked back since. Very shortly after that, UF3 came out, and allowed me to use Apophysis, and now UF4 is here with the Explore function. Even without understanding the math, or writing any programs, I continue to be delighted with that 'Ahhhhhhhhhhh' moment that fills me with happiness.

I'm so delighted to have found a medium that I can manipulate easily and well. To find so many helpful people and interesting tools to work with makes it even better. Thanks to all the terrific formula writers and programmers for making it all possible. Following the Road to Chaos has enriched my life beyond my wildest dreams.
~Vivian (aka Tresamie)



Blogger pinozito said...

I am ,too, very clumsy with
my hands when using a pencil or a brush. The use of these fractal programs
is a wondeful way to create images and a lot of fun!
You can share the creative
experience of painters!

1/12/2007 6:45 AM

Blogger Rykk said...

I just never had the time to do "traditional" art at the time I was into it - Jr High and High School. It required a lot of tools I couldn't afford and was too into being "Joe Rockstar" in my 20's to do anything but music in my spare tiem. I did have a whirlwind affair with oil pastels back in jr high. Too "lazy" and pressed for time these daze to try again.

I, too, started with WinFract. Lotsa fun! Of course I was a "heretic" and either 4x kaleido'd them manually using PSP4 (dating myself!) or cut pieces out and pasted them into compositions. Saw my first one in an engineering lab at Harris in the mid-eighties and it always stuck in the back of my mind. When I got my first pc - a blazing HP with a 120MHz PII and a "humongous" 1.2gb drive - it wasn't long until I got into nifty desktop wallpapers and discovered the free wallpapers pages on AOL. I noticed they had a "fractals" page and the the trajectory of the demise of any free time for useless pursuits, like mowing the lawn or working on honey-dos took an ever steepening downward slope!

I agree - fractals are a great outlet for one's urge to create. And they don't make a whole lot of mess around the house, either! :-)


1/13/2007 4:00 PM

Blogger David Makin said...

I was also useless at traditional art - I could never get a pencil or brush to produce what I intended, though I don't know about sculpting - it's not something I've ever tried though I suspect I'd have the same problem.

I had seen some "psychedelic" fractal art in the past but when I eventually tried Fractint in April 1999 I was immeediately hooked on both the Art and Math of Fractals and my spare time has gradually become more and more dominated by working on formulas and images.

I find programming a good creative outlet but programming fractal formulas even more so and creating Fractal Art itself most of all.

1/14/2007 11:38 AM


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