A Matter of Scale

There exists a very old phrase, ‘as above, so below’.  Its meaning is interpreted in various ways, depending on where you look.  Its source is generally attributed to Hermes, though according to some, it is probably even older than that.

According to Wikipedia, the full quote translated from Hermes ‘ The Emerald Tablet of Hermes Trismegistus, as translated by Dennis W. Hauck, is “That which is Below corresponds to that which is Above, and that which is Above corresponds to that which is Below, to accomplish the miracle of the One Thing.”

Isaac Newton translated the Emerald Tablet’s passage as follows: ‘That which is below is like that which is above & that which is above is like that which is below to do the miracles of one only thing’  (according to Quora).

I don’t know exactly where I first heard the phrase, but it certainly popped into my head a lot as I began to explore fractal geometry.  The more I learn about fractals and about the cosmos, the more I see similarities between large scales, like the universe, and small scales, like an atom.  Perhaps an easier example to envision is the similarity between say, a river drainage pattern and the venation in a leaf.  After all, fractals are often self-similar on smaller and smaller scales.  It is one of the ways in which fractal geometry was discovered by Benoit Mandelbrot.  My cursory understanding of such things, as an artist whose education was mainly in biology, does not diminish my enthusiasm for humanity’s search to find a Theory of Everything.  Whenever I see a Physics article in my various news feeds, I am struck by either their use of illustrative images which I recognize from experience as being generated fractals, or how much the actual images generated by their physics experiments resemble generated fractals.  Maybe someday the ideas will all fit together.  Until then, I will continue to happily make my art and notice how in reality, sometimes it is tricky to know what the scale of an image is.

This piece will be on display in my gallery this weekend during ‘Welcome Back to Otterville’, our town’s 21st annual studio tour.  Please visit www.WelcomeBackToOtterville.ca for details of the tour, including maps and times.

microcosm or macrocosm?

A Matter of Scale. Digital Fractal Art, printed on metal. 20×20″. Single edition print. Artist Lianne Todd. $325.00

 

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New work!

It has been a while since I’ve blogged about any new pieces here… I was focusing on my traditional watercolours for the winter, although I did have a piece or two I hadn’t introduced.

For instance, there is this one which I called ‘Swiftly Tilting’.  I had just read the whole Madeleine L’Engle series for the first time, so this image conjured up that title – you can imagine why!  This is another one of my hand-painted pieces of fractal art – a watercolour on Aquabord.  (Image here is watermarked).  It is in a handmade black shadow-box frame (not shown).

Swiftly Tilting. Watercolour on Aquabord. 6×6″. Lianne Todd. $175.00

I’ve created THREE new pieces that will be ready for visitors to see on the Oxford Studio Tour!  It’s May 6 & 7 this year, and it is our 10th year for the tour!  I am Stop #3 this time.  I will be keeping the new pieces, (2 metal prints, 1 acrylic print) under wraps until the tour, because sometimes it is just better if people have the chance to see the art in person first.

Earlier this year, I was the one updating our website with all of this year’s locations, artist blurbs, sample art images, and maps.  It’s going to be a great tour, and there are even more reasons to come to Oxford County what with part of Big Cheese Days happening the Saturday of that weekend too!  Gunns Hill is right on the way down to Otterville from the 401 and their cheese is delicious!

It has been a very busy year of creating and exhibiting so far, and I hope that continues.  I look forward to the tour, and to a more active year of blogging about my art too!

Alien Architecture

Associating fractals with architectural design is not a new thing – I don’t make any claims there.  In fact, fractal geometry was used as a basis for the design of places to live long before we had a name for it – especially in Africa. There’s a TED blog about this very thing – just search for fractal architecture and you’ll find it.

I, however, like to make fractals using no intent, then capture images according to what my imagination lets me see.  The fantastic universes I am able to explore have their own landscapes and their own architecture, and the “creatures” that some of the flame fractals reveal are alien yet familiar.  I like placing them in the alien worlds and imagining what might be unfolding.

For the Square Foot Show at the Westland Gallery in London, Ontario, I created two pieces of fractal art, each a 12×12″ metal print, with a hint at alien architecture in common.  Keep in mind these photographs are of the metal prints themselves.  As usual, they are tough to portray in photography because of the reflective surface, and you really need to see them in person – preferably in good light.  For one reason or another these both ended up on the bottom row of the wall at the gallery – not ideal when they look their best with light bouncing into your eyes!  However, there is literally more wonderful art per square foot in that gallery right now than there is for many galleries all year.  This is a great show, and the opening night was packed with people.  You could barely move around.  It also happened to be pretty hot and humid that day – so many of us ended up just outside the door fanning ourselves.  The ice cold drinks were going fast!

The show is on until August 12.  Go check it out if you can.

Occupant. Digital Fractal Art printed on metal, single edition print. $185. Lianne Todd

Occupant. Digital Fractal Art printed on metal, single edition print. $185. Lianne Todd

Beacon. Digital Fractal Art printed on metal, single edition print. $185. Lianne Todd

Beacon. Digital Fractal Art printed on metal, single edition print. $185. Lianne Todd

SquareFootShowEvite

An Archetypal Image

I think I have mentioned before how I see many fractals as somewhat archetypal in nature.  We have, in our decorative past, incorporated many motifs that turn out to be quite common in fractal geometry.  The swirls and whorls, the spirals and branches, the radiating patterns… it is like we knew about fractals before we knew about fractals.  But of course we did, didn’t we?  Because fractals are the shapes of nature, and we are a part of nature ourselves, and surrounded by it.  We noticed the regular and irregular natural patterns around us and we appreciated them.  We began to find them beautiful. Then we began to associate them with ideas, and some of them became symbolic.

This particular fractal is one of those ones that seems to be archetypal.  Of course the cross shape, as a symbol, is much more ancient than the Christian religion.  This is more complicated than a simple cross, though.  What other associations does your mind bring to this image?

Symbol.  Digital fractal art on metal.  Single edition print. 16x16". Lianne Todd

Symbol. Digital fractal art on metal. Single edition print. 16×16″. Lianne Todd

I hope you’ll come out to my studio this coming weekend during the Oxford Studio Tour to see this piece and more.

Show opening this weekend

The artists’ group I am a member of, the Artists of Oxford, is having a group show at the Ingersoll Creative Arts Centre and the opening for the show is this Sunday, 2-4 pm.  I’ve got two pieces in the show, and they are both digital fractals printed on acrylic.  One is called Diaphanous, the other is called Indeterminate.

I hope you’ll be able to join us for the opening or make it to the show while it is on!

Artists-of-Oxford---postcard-good

back of invite to email

The scarves are selling!

I still have my design page on VIDA, where you can purchase the 100% natural Charmeuse silk square scarves with my fractal designs on them.  These are larger (34.5×34.5″) than any of my wall pieces with the added value of being wearable!  VIDA emailed me the other day letting me know traffic to my page has been strong, and in the email they sent a few coupon codes for me to pass along.

Here they are!

5 USD Gift Card off Orders 50 USD+ (use code PMCG3191V3IX)
15 USD Gift Card off Orders 100 USD+ (use code 83PNNJ8ZCUCE)
40 USD Gift Card off Orders 200 USD+ (use code NHJTDLZ2XS7P)

This offer expires on Sunday January 24th at midnight PST.

GroovyPageVIDA

HiggsBosonPageVIDA

ArtifactsPageVIDA

 

Wearable Fractals!

I am very excited to share with you a new direction I am taking with my fractal art.  I was approached a couple of weeks ago by VIDA, which is a global partnership of co-creators – artists and designers all over the world, makers in Pakistan, India, Sri Lanka and Latin America, and consumers all over the world.  They are backed by, among others, Google Ventures and Universal Music Group. One of the reasons I accepted their proposal is their socially responsible outlook.  The makers receive a living wage, as well as a basic literacy and math education they wouldn’t ordinarily get.  The artists receive ten percent of all sales from their collection, and nothing is made until it is ordered.

I love the idea of my fractal art being worn!  What a great way to show off the natural beauty of the fractals while increasing my exposure as an artist.  I have chosen, at least as a starting point, to only use either my original watercolour fractals as designs, or digital fractals I haven’t printed on metal or acrylic.  My first pieces are silk square scarves, as they worked well with designs I had already created.  One of them has been designed using the software Mandelbulb 3D.  Click on the image below to visit my VIDA collection and shop online!

VIDApage

Following the Patterns of Nature

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.   16x16".  Lianne Todd.  $225.00.

Following the Patterns. Digital Fractal Art printed on metal, single edition. 16×16″. Lianne Todd. $225.00.

Fractal Machinery

I just wanted to say thank you to all the studio tourists who took their precious weekend time to drive out my way and visit my studio.  It was a pleasure to meet you or see you again, and I had fun giving brief explanations of fractals and their significance when you showed an interest.  If you want to see some more of them in person, right now there are four on display at the restaurant Sixthirtynine in Woodstock, ON.  A very fine restaurant suitable for a special dinner date!

On the tour weekend I presented a few new fractals.  This is one of them (watermarked):

Pretty Cogs in the Big Machine.   Fractal Digital Art printed on metal, single edition.  24x24". $425.00  Lianne Todd

Pretty Cogs in the Big Machine.
Fractal Digital Art printed on metal, single edition. 24×24″.
$425.00 © Lianne Todd

This one doesn’t really reflect the natural world so much as it reflects our complicated man-made world.  It’s not likely that most cogs in our machines are this pretty, but there is definitely a complexity in our modern technology that has beauty.  Some of that complexity, for instance, is contained in the very machine you are viewing this on.  Maybe there are no cogs, but the minutiae of its workings have to rival the intricacy they feature.  The background of this piece could also be compared to the circuitry involved in some of our other more powerful pieces of technology.  For instance, if you have a smart phone, the antenna that makes it all work had to be a fractal, or we simply wouldn’t have smart phones.

For a while I was referring to this image to myself as the steampunk fractal, as I have recently become enamored with all things steampunk.  However, giving it such a title didn’t seem to really fit.  These are far from steampunk-type gears, they aren’t real, and the machinery is not reminiscent of anything very old-fashioned.  This is just a nod to the genre!

 

 

Chaos

Quote

In the mind’s eye, a fractal is a way of seeing infinity. – James Gleick

I just finished reading a really good book called “Chaos – Making a New Science” by James Gleick.  It was recommended to me by the London Free Press photographer who took photos at my The Fractal Nature of Our Universe exhibit last summer.  (Don’t forget the reprisal of that show, A Fractal Universe, is currently at the Station Arts Centre in Tillsonburg until April 7!)

It was a really interesting read, full of insight into the difficulties scientists and mathematicians have had in the past, with certain problems they encountered.  Most of them involved non-linear dynamical systems – the kind you often find in nature.  They were so troublesome that these problems would be put aside, ignored, deemed unsolvable.  So many different kinds of scientists and mathematicians in the late 1960s and 1970s were separately converging on the same theories to solve these problems at the same time, while the tools (computers) to more freely explore these theories were also developing, one can truly say it was a science whose time had come.  That didn’t mean that it didn’t meet with resistance!  Sometimes even those who were essentially promoting the same ideas refused to acknowledge each other.

Fractals are a large part of Chaos Theory.

Wherever chaos led, Mandelbrot had some basis to claim that he had been there first. – James Gleick

However, there was much to discover even after Mandelbrot had provided this language for describing nature.  Scientists wanted to know the “why” – and they still do.  I am not sure how many scientists today are attempting to use chaos theory and the language of fractals to interpret systems from the smallest to the largest of scales.  Certainly many ecologists, medical researchers, economists, meteorologists, and some astronomers are.  But there is still some resistance.

Will those who are looking to complete a Grand Unified Theory give full consideration to Chaos Theory and Fractal Geometry?  I hope so.  Time will tell, and these are exciting times indeed.