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A German Fractal Artist Explains the Science Behind His Art

Fractal art produces beautiful geometric patterns that rely on mathematical models to create their beauty. A fractal artist from Germany explains the science behind his digital creations.

Fractals use a principle called "Iteration." The sum of a calculation flows, as a numerical value, into a second calculation, and this value flows into the third etc. Many natural and man-made objects have a fractal character. Nature tries things out first--and mistakes are actually expected, if not even necessary to create new things.

If you watch children as they play, you will note that they learn through a similar process: trying things out, and trying once again. It seems as if the process of knowledge brings forth fractal structures. Mistakes are there to be made and to learn from. In nature, this principle is much more complex; plants come into existence and influence their environment and the environment--influences the existence of the plant. This process of feedback produces its own environment, that the plant itself makes its own existence possible. Our earth is a good example of how dynamic systems reconstruct their environment to fit their own needs, and in the process change it, just because the new things added to the system require change. Everything is interdependent, and should be acknowledged as a whole; therefore we can call the feedback principle a building block of evolution--one that is not only found on this planet, but also in the entire universe. The "Big Bang" was probably the first feedback process and can be seen as the beginning of all further iterations.

What does nature have to do with these fractal pictures?

In the construction of fractals, almost the same mechanism is at work. In this case, we call it evolution. But with fractals, the sum of an equation is projected onto a level and receives a color. In this case, a small portion of the universal construction plan of nature comes to light. A universe of bizarre, iterative beauty, of forms that are primarily natural, is revealed; something new is created. Depending on which formulas and variables are used to produce the computer fractals on a monitor, the character of the pictures change. The color, the focal point and the view can be directly influenced, but the form is only indirectly influenced by the formula and variables used. You can see a play of infinity in nature and the infinite possibilities of color and form, which can enhance the human imagination.

One question that every artist asks himself is "now how do I present this work I've produced. Digital Art can be represented as data in the computer. But then, how does one visualize these pictures? There is the possibility of Inkjet Print but this process is not light-resistant--after 5 years the colors fade out and the pictures aren't so attractive. In the mean time there is light-resistant inkjet toner on the market, but I personally don't have experience with it. In this case you can print the usual way: Blueprint, Fotoprinting, and pigment printing etc.

I decided on the pigment printing process because of its brilliance and colorfastnes--and because a friend and professional lithographer, Hans Ulrich recommended it.

Here, Hans Ulrich describes the pigment print process:

Pigment printing is a photographic copying method, in which a halftone picture results from a pigment bedded in gelatin. The primary material is a paper called "pigment paper", a paper coated with a mixture of gelatin and pigment. The paper is made light-resistant through a bath in chromcarbonate fluid, then its dried and photoprocessed with a halftone negative--through which the gelatin is hardened depending on the lighting involved, making it insoluble in warm water. The gelatin is pulled up from the transfer sheet (the final picture carrier) and gets processed in warm water; the unprocessed gelatin gets dissolved. The relief of hardened gelatin is left over. Depending on thickness, that has more or less pigment on it. The more light, the higher the relief and the darker the tone of the color.

Pigment printing is the color-, tone- and light-fastest photoprocess that we know to date. Lightfast pigment and carrier papers guaranty a higher longevity than all silver techniques. In 3-color pigment print, the three main printed colors of magenta, cyan and yellow pigmented gelatin coats are pulled off one after the other. As a result you get a colored picture. It is the only colored photopositive process that has its longevity, as apposed to the standard processes, that cannot hold the colorfastness and light-resistance beyond about 20 years.

More about the combination Chaos and old print-techniques on http://www.fractal-art.com [Editor's Note: You can also see a stunning collection of Rupp's fractal work on that site] or write to Hans Ulrich hans.ulrich@mail.fractal-art.com

Manfred W.Rupp has been creating "fractal digitalism" since 1993. Trained as a typesetter and computer programmer (Assembly, Basic, Cobol, PL1), he is interested in classical music, post-Impressionist art, chess and logical games, and Chaos philosophers such as Peter Sloterdijk, James Lovelock, and Douglas Hofstadter. His first exhibition of fractal art took place in September 1997, near Stuttgart, Germany.


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