I’ve always found something strangely fascinating about those blackboards or whiteboards with huge incomprehensible equations scrawled across them… But I have to face that although I passed calculus, it was by the skin of my teeth. I can catch glimpses of the beautiful, elegant thing that math is, like looking through curtains out into a moonlit garden. There’s a woman pacing there, and the shadows consume most of her. Only a curve, a gleam of light on a cheek, reveal the promise of a terrible, ineluctable being that drives the universe to its knees.
So there’s that. I’m a wordsmith, not a mathematician. I know what’s beautiful when I see it. I appreciate my friend’s jokes about math, and physics, even if I don’t know what the coefficient of fiction is until I’m told that it’s mu. I can make art, even if I can’t parse the equations.
Which is what I’ve been doing with fractal flames. I know there’s math there. But it’s like the magic smoke in my electronics. If you let it out, they don’t work any more. I just don’t think about what is really happening in there, the tiny electrons dancing and passing impulses back and forth, never moving and yet never at rest. I couldn’t tell you how to calculate the fractal. I can tell you that it’s beautiful.
One of the things I love about this art media, aside from the digital-no-mess part, is the ability to create things that look organic. Fractals occur in nature, and so when I create them on the screen, they look…well, natural. Only not. Far more perfect than they have any right to be. Which can be uncanny if I’m not careful.
To keep the fractals from looking too perfectly made and shaped, I try to introduce some asymmetry, often by adjusting the perspective.
Other times, it’s the very symmetry of the work that makes it into something more than simply abstract light against darkness.