It is an absolutely beautiful day today in Otterville, full of colour and the patterns of nature, so I plan to spend some time outside. It was during another beautiful day a few years back, hiking in the woods at Awenda Provincial Park, that I came across many kinds of fungus. I took a number of photos, and an edited version of one of them ended up as part of this image I am presenting to you today.
On another completely separate occasion, I was creating fractal images and found that, as is often the case, there were distinctly natural and vegetative features recognizable in one. I saved it, and later on when looking through all of my photos, I noticed how well the features in it mimicked and extrapolated the patterns of growth I had noticed in the fungal photo. I had even just happened, by whim, to have edited the photo so that its colours matched the ones I had, by chance, used in the fractal creation.
What you see below is a digital collage of the natural and the generated fractal patterns, printed on metal. Once again nature shows how it is a manifestation of the fractal patterns of the universe.
Following the Patterns. Digital Fractal Art printed on metal, single edition. 16×16″. Artist Lianne Todd. SOLD. Private Collection.
I have mentioned a few times in previous posts about fractal images often being archetypal. I’m not really sure I was correct in describing them that way, but what I will say is that they often look familiar in a way that transcends their immediate translation into a real object. For instance, when I first looked at this fractal image, I immediately thought of the Aztecs and the patterns they incorporated into their art forms. Having now looked at some Aztec art in more depth, I’m not even sure why I thought of them, other than the feather motif and the colours. That’s just what immediately came to mind. And I have other fractal images created (not shown here) which really speak to me of Native American blanket patterns. Others might look at this piece and be more immediately aware of the hourglass shape. Maybe you will look at it and see something else entirely.
My point is, from near the beginning of humanity, we have been making patterns, whether or not they were drawn with a stick in the sand, sculpted along the edge of a stone building’s rooftop, painted on a cathedral ceiling, or digitally on a tablet. Possibly for 60,000 years, we have been making patterns! And if you look at all the patterns we have been making, you may notice that many of them are self-similar on smaller and smaller scales. We were making fractals and we didn’t have a name for what was common to them all. And we didn’t have a concept of the way fractals were involved in the geometry of nature – not consciously, anyway. Maybe we were consciously inspired by nature, but didn’t recognize that specific aspect of it. Only for the last 30-40 years have we, thanks to Mandelbrot, come to an awareness of this common denominator. I like the way fractals connect all of humanity over time, and the way they connect us to nature. I’m really looking forward to exploring this with future pieces!
Aztec Gold. Watercolour on Gessoed Paper. 20×20″. $650.00. Artist Lianne Todd
Examples of fractals in biology are not difficult to find, and indeed if the universe is fractal, there should be a fractal component to all biological forms. In the post entitled The Photographs, in which I have captured some natural fractal forms, there are at least five forms which are biological. In the post entitled Butterflies and Moths, there were several digitally generated fractals which just happened to look biological. Anyone who has looked up the word fractal has probably been given the example of the fern, or the romanesco, or even the tree. In fact, people can create extremely realistic looking plants using software that takes advantage of fractal geometry. Our lungs, and our vascular systems are obviously fractal in nature. Ever looked at a sea slug? Beautiful little fractals.
When I create my fractal digital art, and sometimes watercolours, I don’t try to make things that are biological, but I recognize natural forms when I see them and they pop up on their own all the time. The fact that I’m not making them on purpose somehow speaks to my scientific side, and relates them to evolutionary theory. I talked about this a little bit in The rose and the creation process as well.
These two pieces are examples which are maybe not as obvious as the butterflies but do remind me of biology just the same.
Cell Division. Lianne Todd. Watercolour on Aquabord. 6×6″. $175.00
Triad. Lianne Todd. Watercolour on Paper. 20×20″. $650.00
Insects, and particularly butterflies and moths, are recurring motifs that I often encounter when I’m creating fractals. Sometimes, it’s just the simple shape, and other times it seems to be a whole detailed creature. Sometimes it’s done with what I call the ‘regular’ fractal generator and other times with the flame fractal generator (more on those differences later). If a mathematical formula iterated over and over by a computer can randomly generate images like these in a matter of minutes or hours, imagine what the physical forces of nature and a few billion years of evolution can do with a periodic table of elements (and, shall I say, an underlying fractal structure?). Oh wait, you don’t have to imagine. You can go outside!
(All images are watermarked and copyrighted)
Butterfly Hub – Artist Lianne Todd Digital Art printed on metal, single edition 20×20″ $345.00
Detail of Butterfly Hub
Butterflire – Artist Lianne Todd Digital Art printed on metal, single edition 20×20″ $345.00
Detail of Butterflire
Mother of Moths – Artist Lianne Todd Digital Art printed on metal, single edition 12×12″ SOLD. Private Collection.
Pollinator – Artist Lianne Todd Digital Art printed on metal, single edition 16×16″ $240.00
A thumbnail of the raw generated fractal – just to illustrate part of the process.