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. $195. Artist 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. $195. Artist 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″. Artist Lianne Todd. Private Collection.

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

A Farewell to “Wind”

A while back I found out one of my fractal pieces had sold from the Art Gallery of Lambeth.  I’d like to take this opportunity to thank them for representing me and for selling this piece.  I didn’t find out which one it was, until recently, and then I was not surprised, as many people at various exhibits have told me it is their favourite.

I was going to find the image on this site and change the caption to say it was sold… and then realized I have never posted it here!  I’ve used the image to advertise some of my shows, but have never quite written the blog post I wanted to write about it.

While “archetypal” comes to mind (and is wrong) to describe this image, I confess I’m at a loss otherwise.   And maybe that is why it took me this long to write about it.  There is just something about it that speaks to people, and while I feel it too, I can’t describe it.  Who needs words when it comes to visual art anyway, right?  But I would love to hear your ideas.

My original title for this was “The Birth of Wind”, but then it just became “Wind”.  I don’t even have an explanation for that!

All I really have to say is, while this image is also one of my favourites and will stay with me for a long time, I am glad someone else is now able to enjoy it on a daily basis.  If you are the buyer, thank you and please let me know as I haven’t been told who you are.

Wind. Digital Fractal Art on metal, single edition print. 20x20". Lianne Todd. SOLD

Wind. Digital Fractal Art on metal, single edition print. 20×20″. Lianne Todd. SOLD.  Private Collection.

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″.
$450.00 © 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!

 

 

Patterns of humanity

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. 20x20". $625.00. Lianne Todd

Aztec Gold.
Watercolour on Gessoed Paper.
20×20″.
$650.00.
Artist Lianne Todd

Biological Forms

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. 6x6". $175.00

Cell Division.
Lianne Todd.
Watercolour on Aquabord.
6×6″.
$175.00

Triad. Lianne Todd. Watercolour on Paper. 20x20". $625.00

Triad.
Lianne Todd. Watercolour on Paper.
20×20″.
$650.00

 

Physical Phenomena

If I am postulating that the universe is fractal in nature, it makes sense that structures formed by molecules behaving in their natural way should be recognizable as fractals.  Such is the case with frost, turbulence, and bubbles.  Just do a little Google search with each of those terms alongside fractal, and you’ll see what I mean.  Mandelbrot made groundbreaking progress modelling turbulence, which had confounded mathematicians before him, using fractal geometry.

It also makes sense that in my random wanderings through the fractal universes I create, I encounter images that remind me of these phenomena.  Such is the case with these two fractals which I chose to paint.  I especially like the way the bubbles in Turbulence & Bubbles look like they are in the process of being blown, sometimes from multiple locations, and melding together when they meet, just like real bubbles would.

Hot Frost. Watercolour on Aquabord. 6x6". $175.00 Lianne Todd

Hot Frost.
Watercolour on Aquabord.
6×6″.
$175.00
Lianne Todd

Turbulence & Bubbles. Watercolour on Gessoed Paper. 20x20". $625.00. Lianne Todd

Turbulence & Bubbles.
Watercolour on Gessoed Paper.
20×20″.
$650.00.
Lianne Todd

Imagining the Cosmos

As you may know, if you have been reading all of my blog posts, I like to dabble a little in cosmology.  Not that I really know anything about it, but it fascinates me, and I like the kind of abstract thought it stimulates.  I was given a Great Course one Christmas on Dark Matter, Dark Energy, The Dark Side of the Universe, which I’ve enjoyed a great deal.  Dr. Sean Carroll is great at explaining cosmology in a way that I, at least, can understand.  I also read Brian Greene’s The Hidden Reality, a fascinating book.  I subscribe to many Facebook Pages which post news about the latest pieces of knowledge in this field.  The abstract thought appeals to me, and I think I’m pretty good at it, but my math and physics skills are limited to helping out my children when they were doing grade twelve homework.  Which may be nothing to sneeze at, but is less than what is required for particle physics.

One of the things that really strikes me, is that the visual components, be they illustrations or actual data translated into an image, of almost every piece of news in cosmology, are recognizable to me as being fractal in nature.  Perhaps it is because I’ve spent so much time looking at fractals, zooming in, and examining them from every angle, that I notice this.  I am always mystified when no mention of fractals is made, in these cases.  I’ve written a  whole post (and another) about fractal dimensions before, so I won’t go into that here, but that’s another part of the puzzle I like to think about.

I know these two fractals don’t really illustrate anything in particular, but they make me think along the lines of particle physics, and stardust, and the early universe.

"Stardance". Watercolour on gessoed paper. 20x20". $625.00 Lianne Todd

“Stardance”. Watercolour on gessoed paper. 20×20″.
$650.00
Lianne Todd

"Particles and Fields". Fractal Digital Art on Metal, single edition print. 20x20". $325.00 Lianne Todd

“Particles and Fields”.
Fractal Digital Art on Metal, single edition print. 20×20″.
$345.00
Lianne Todd

This past summer, during my exhibit, I was told about a person in the same city (London, Ontario) who, it seemed, had a lot of the same thoughts I was having about the fractal nature of the universe.  She is a software engineer and has been studying fractals for much longer than I have!  Needless to say, her math skills are much better than mine.  I was fortunate to meet her (her name is Lori Gardi) this fall.  She has two websites, the first of which I’m going to direct you to Here, in which she has laid out some of her thoughts in a pretty clear way.  I’ll link you to the more recent one later… I think it’s a good idea to start at the beginning of her thought process. We (artists, software engineers, mathematicians, physicists, philosophers) may not all have the same thought processes or reach the same conclusions in our explorations of fractals and their role in the universe, but all avenues should be explored as long as they can exist within the rules that have been truly established by scientists and mathematicians in the past.  I am, unfortunately, not capable of judging whether anything follows those rules, but others who can, need to at least look at this work with an open mind and decide for themselves. ESPECIALLY if it may help solve any of the mysteries still out there.

Further into the realm of Fantasy

Often, when I’m voyaging through the through the little fractal universes I have generated using the software which I am so thankful exists, I encounter ‘places’ that look like they belong in an illustration for a book I’ve read somewhere along the way. I also encounter characters that look like they belong in those places.  Such was the case for this piece:

The Mage Emerges Digital Art Printed on Metal, single edition 24x24" $425.00 Lianne Todd

The Mage Emerges
Digital Art Printed on Metal, single edition
24×24″
SOLD.  Private collection.
Artist Lianne Todd

The Landing

Congratulations to the European Space Agency, and to all of humanity, for boldly going where no one has gone before… for landing the human-built robot Philae on a comet!!
This is truly a historic moment and an example of how our imaginations can lead us to realities our ancestors may have considered impossibilities.  It will lead to a greater understanding of our solar system and of the universe.

In honour of this event, I’m posting my piece called The Landing.  I can’t think of a better day to do it!  It’s purely imaginary, constructed of three different fractals, and belongs in the realm of fantasy or science fiction.  But then, not so long ago, so did landing on a comet…

The Landing Digital Art printed on metal, single edition 20x20" Lianne Todd $325.00

The Landing
Digital Art printed on metal, single edition
20×20″
Artist Lianne Todd
SOLD.  Private Collection.