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

 

Advertisements

There is always a bridge.

We live in a very divided political landscape these days.  There are a great many vocal people on both the left and the right, and sometimes it is difficult to imagine we can find any common ground with each other.

I helped found, and am the publicity director for, the Canadian branch of the International Watercolor Society (IWS Canada).  Our mission is to “promote peace, harmony, love, understanding and acceptance of each others’ differences” through the medium of watercolour.   We recently held a contest in which we asked people all over the world to express ways in which they celebrate.  We asked what celebration meant to them.  Many interpreted the question as ‘what’ do you celebrate, rather than ‘how’. In a way, we were asking for participants to build a bridge for us so we could learn about their cultures.  It has meant we’ve interacted with 1450 people all over the world.  It may be a small contribution to peace, and love, but many small contributions add up!  The 150 finalists chosen by our four jurors can be seen on our website (thanks to the hard work of Ona Kingdon, Elizabeth Franchetto Irvine, and myself ;)), along with the videos in both English and French made by our president, Ona.  We recognize, of course, that all art forms “can bring people together despite differences in race, religion, culture and distance.” We just happen to especially love watercolour.

As you know, I also happen to love digital fractal art.

This piece of mine illustrates a landscape full of great divisions, but wherever there is a chasm, the fractal algorithm has built a natural bridge.

Fractal landscape, natural bridges

There is Always a Bridge. Digital Fractal Art printed on metal, single edition. 20×20″. Artist Lianne Todd. $325.00

What if we did that?  What if each of us made it our business to build a small bridge wherever we see a chasm we can’t fill (like in that song by Sting!).  Our hearts can be open without compromising our ideals. We don’t have to have “fortresses” around them.

Anyone who knows me knows I love to argue (not fight), just for argument’s sake.  So it may seem odd to them – me talking about building bridges.  But my arguments are never meant to hurt or cause strife – they are meant to bring more understanding, both for me and for the other person.  It really saddens me when that isn’t the outcome, as is sometimes the case.  There is always a bridge that can be built or found.  We can’t/won’t always cross the bridges, and can’t expect others to cross over to us either, but at least we may get a little closer to seeing the others’ point of view, and sometimes we can meet in the middle.

Ethereal Visions

Before I begin to introduce this new piece, I would like to thank all of the nice people who visited my studio/gallery this past weekend for the Oxford Studio Tour, and showed such fascinated interest in my fractal art.  You really do help me keep the inspiration fresh!

As you may know, clouds exhibit fractal geometry.  Mandelbrot’s famous quote:

“Clouds are not spheres, mountains are not cones, coastlines are not circles, and bark is not smooth, nor does lightning travel in a straight line.”

is certainly a confirmation of that if you needed it.  That quote is from the very first paragraph of his book The Fractal Geometry of Nature and he discusses the topic in several places throughout it.

I took the photo of these clouds at sunset one evening here in Otterville.  Living down close to the historic mill in this little town, we don’t always get the best view of sunsets, but every now and then there is a spectacular one that must be photographed.  And of course since I am interested in the cloud geometry, I also like the way it is highlighted by the colours.

It seemed like a very natural place for this fractal, created in Oxidizer, to occupy.  The shape immediately brought to mind something happening in the sky, perhaps a place Zeus would be.  There was an obvious (to me) song title that came to mind too, and perhaps you can guess what it was, or maybe not.  But it didn’t quite interpret this the way I wanted, and I was stumped for a while trying to think of a title.  I liked the little spirals and the curved shapes reminded me of somersaults, and I still felt there was a musical component.

After having it printed on acrylic, and hanging it on my gallery wall, I showed it to my son, and asked him what he thought I should call it.  It didn’t take him very long to say “Aerials” and although the word on its own is ideal, I immediately knew he was referring to the song by System of a Down.  It is on their Toxicity album.  I confess I only know it (and all the other metal that I like) because of my son, but it is truly one of my favourite songs of all, and I hope they don’t mind me naming this piece of art after their music.  I agreed with him that it is the perfect title.  I don’t know why I didn’t think of it myself.  My suggestion is that you first go find and read the lyrics.  Then listen to the song.  I think you might agree too.

fractal, ethereal, sky, Lianne Todd

Aerials. Digital fractal art printed on acrylic, single edition. 20×20″. Artist Lianne Todd. $360.00

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

New Fractals

I’m excited to have some new fractal art to show you in a week at the Oxford Studio Tour.

We have thirty-one artists at seventeen locations throughout Oxford County, Ontario, Canada in the heart of the southwestern part of this province.  It will be a fun day trip for anyone in the region – even those coming out from Toronto! (Wouldn’t it be nice to get out of the city for a day or two?)

Here is a preview of one of the fractals.  I have printed it (using Posterjack) on metal, 20×20″ and that is the only print I will do, so it is an original piece.  It is created digitally using the Mandelbulb 3D software.  As I find usual and striking for fractals, it looks very natural. It is pretty obvious what I thought it resembled!  I hope you’ll come and see it.  I think it would make a great piece to gaze at from anywhere in your house, while you consider nature and its mysteries, and it draws you in close, as well – as all fractals do with their self-similarity on smaller and smaller scales.

I call this one Ocean Floor:

Ocean Floor. Digital Fractal Art. Lianne Todd.

Ocean Floor. Digital Fractal Art. Lianne Todd.

 

Scarf Arrival

Yesterday, my scarf order FINALLY arrived.  (I ordered it December 15.  It is now March 1 –  Hardly the 30 days between order and shipping that was promised by the company).  I received several surprises between then and now, and not all of them were pleasant.  Please know, I have been on their case about the lateness of the order fulfillment, among  other things, and while they were not prompt with their response, either, they have responded and are taking measures to remedy the situation for the future.  At least, that is what they are trying to do.  They are a pretty new company, so I guess we can give them the benefit of the doubt.  If you, like me, placed an order, I hope yours has also arrived.  If not, I am sure it will, very soon.  And I am sorry if it hasn’t.  In every other way, the VIDA company has dealt with me fairly and has generously kept my page live past the original deadline.  For that I thank them.

Now, on to the scarf!  I only ordered the one design, so I don’t know how other designs will turn out.  The colours are a little different from the original design – some are more intense and others a slightly different hue, but the clarity of the image is great and the quality of the scarf is quite nice.  All in all, I’m happy.  I hope you will be too if you purchased any.  Thank you for doing so!

The original design compared to the actual scarf (which I haven’t ironed yet – sorry!):

Design&RealityArtifactAnd here it is on me, tied a few different ways:

Artifactsscarf4

Artifactsscarf1ArtifactsScarf2aArtifactsScarf3

 

 

Rough Waters

A little over a month ago, my mind was in turmoil and I spent some time creating this image.  The process of creating is always calming and even though none of the problems turning circles in my head were solved by it, it was a way for me to get through that time.  The piece is called “No Port in Sight”. Since then, things have gradually become better.  The waters have calmed.

No Port in Sight.  Digital fractal image.  Lianne Todd.  Unprinted as yet - only one print will be made.  If you wish to own this please contact me to discuss format, size, etc.

No Port in Sight. Digital fractal image. Lianne Todd. Unprinted as yet – only one print will be made. If you wish to own this please contact me to discuss format, size, etc.

Unbeknownst to me, at the same time, another artist, a photographer named Dave Sandford, was capturing the real thing from my favourite beach, Port Stanley!  I hope he won’t mind if I link to his photos here.  I don’t know him but apparently he lives in my “hometown” of London, Ontario.  They are absolutely awesome, would have been difficult to capture, and really exemplify the turbulence and fury our Great Lakes are capable of.  I hope the fractal nature of these is as obvious to you as it it is to me, especially after seeing the image above created entirely using fractal software (Mandelbulb 3D this time – a new (to me) application I’ve been learning to use).

On that note, I’d like to wish you all a Happy New Year – and may you always have a port in sight!

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!