But is it art...?
"It just doesn't add up!"
we may declare, while summing up our opinion of a given piece of art. We are
divided into two camps, by times: those who figure that artwork must compute,
and those who feel that art is not an equation, but a reflection of the
artist's own raw passion.
The debate is circular, and will always
come around to "beauty is in the eye of the beholder", "art is
beauty and beauty is art" and other typical brawl-inducing artistic
So, always trying to make our product
greater than its parts, the nerds at Jaywalker calculated that we should
substitute our normal human-based artwork with that by a computer. More to the
point: the never-ending mathematical phenomenon known as the fractal.
A fractal, roughly put, is an equation that
makes lace out of space. As you know, lace is full of holes; as you also know,
it has a repeating pattern. Two people following the same directions for
making a piece of lace will produce identical copies. This is true of
A fractal is not made of paper, however; it
is made of numbers. And there can be so many numbers that you'd need a roadmap
to find any given one. But given a map, anyone could find it. In other
words, the fractals to your left are not as much images, as they are specific
locations in an organized sea of numbers.
These locations can be explored and re-explored intact by any
fractal-fancyin' nerd who follows the map, just as two people could look over
a sample of lace and find the same
things. To the fractal artist-explorer, the
location exists, they find it, then
they attach a personal meaning. Two plus two may always equal four,
but to some this four is lucky, to others a reminder of sorrowful times, while
still others may find it a simple cold fact.
In the end, the fractal itself is a
soulless and predictable calculation that is not as much created as it
is discovered. This begs the question: if one does not create an
artwork from their imagination, such as would be the case when painting, nor
capture and bring out the beauty of a physically existing subject, such
as a photographer might do - is it actually an expression, or is it really an
expression by proxy? Can a mathematical statement also be an artistic
The fiery image you see may perfectly express that nerd's personal
contempt for provincial scholarship legislation, or their feelings of deep,
mathematical passion towards another computer lab technician. A given fractal
may be the product of years spent roaming through the cold bits of a virtual
universe; it may cause its beholders to feel they can see the soul of its
creator; an artist may even point to a specific fractal location and declare
with tearful honesty, "That's me!", but is it art...?