Foreword – What is digital fractal art?

Words by Darren Tynan

Fractal art, which is created using an iterative numerical process, involves self-similar and intricate mathematical constructs. Since mathematician Benoit Mandelbrot studied fractal imagery in the late 1970s, there has been considerable debate about the aesthetic value of fractals. As technology has advanced, many open-source fractal mathematics programs allow for personal exploration of fractal parameters. Exploring the visual aspects of fractals can have many uses; a user’s motive can be to use these programs as a soothing diversion, or to create unique forms of art.

Fractals are imponderably beautiful; they display an endless series of motifs within motifs, repeated at all scales. They are abundant in nature – from the delicate fronds of ferns, the shapes of coastlines, the spiraling patterns found in fossilised trilobites, even the human circulatory system and brain are fractal structures.

My role as a visual artist is to explore unchartered digital universes that express the fractal nature of our consciousness. It is this kind of practice-led research that I find enriching; I am involved in a process of sifting through remnants of chaos to extract what I consider to be beautiful.

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