Showing posts from December, 2005

I like simple things...

I don't mean boring, I mean intense, radiant, focussed, strong.

Download parameter file bubblehead.xpf

While we continue in this holiday mode, allow me to pour water on this seed of an idea in hope that it may grow into something fruitful.'s not working.

Wait, think of it this way. Imagine writing. When a piece of writing gets excessively simple, having very few words, it's called poetry.

What is the poetry of graphic art, visual art?

Design. Form, shape, structure, composition.

What is the most popular form of writing? Fiction, prose, non-fiction, and that sort of thing.

Why? Easy. Poetry is hard to make.

Most attempts fail. Poetry is such a celestial thing that one either creates a shining star or something else that falls back to earth, snagged by the awful grip of gravity, leaving an ugly crater in the ground or possibly injuring members of our audience. (music) "Oh no, stuck in Lodi again."

But we are so greatly encouraged by the radiance of previous suc…

The internet is just a big computer

...or a big book, and websites just add more pages to the book, they aren't separate or distinct.

Download parameter file diagram2.xpf

Well, that's how I think the internet works or functions. To the user, it's just an extension to their hard drive.

Technically speaking, the medium of the internet is much more complicated: backbones, protocols, domain name servers, IP addresses...

But then, technically speaking, books are much more complicated than just a collection of pages. Take a close look at an expensively bound book. There's more to it than meets the eye.

Which is my point: It's what we see, what our perception is, that defines the medium.

The internet is an international network of servers, but in the end it amounts to just a big computer.

Consider your own little computer. The internet is just more of it.

Download parameter file diagram.xpf

When you "use" the internet, do you feel a little like you're in space? Do you "sense" a great w…

Achtung! Christmas is over

But since the holidays have just started and the evening of another year is spread out against the sky...

Download parameter file redsky.xpf

Let's consider the topic of Medium vs Genre.

For example: The written or printed word. The medium is uh, the printed word. Words printed on paper. But the genre of the printed words could be poetry, prose, a play, etc...

If you want to write something it doesn't have to be poetry, in verses or whatever, it could be fiction, prose, words in sentences and stuff like that, or something else.

My point is: the medium of the printed word supports many types of genres. A genre is a style of printed words.

That's enough, let's jump to the more interesting stuff: Blogs.

Is a blog a medium or genre?

Ha, ha! Wrong, you morons! It's a medium, not a genre.

And you can't argue with me because this is a blog and it's not the usual bloggish genre of the Online Diary. Ergo, the blog medium can have more than one style or genre. I've…

Fractal home of Santa

Polar Adobe

Download parameter file polarhome.xpf

Like all fairy tales I guess Santa is the product of many minds and a collective creation.

JRR Tolkien wrote a letter to his children from Santa every Christmas. Later they were made into a book called The Father Christmas Letters.

Tolkein had no trouble making up stories and he easily created a whole world around Santa, or Father Christmas as he called him.

Santa is a character with all sorts of possibilities, mostly because the popular legends have so many blanks in them that are just begging to be filled.

Culture is a funny thing. If you go travelling, you soon notice the differences amongst people. Behaviour that seems peculiar to you is perfectly normal and natural to the country you're in.

You come home and for the first time become aware of the culture you are a part of. That's the great thing about travelling, you get to know your own home better.

I wonder what Santa thinks about the world. Will he one day just decide to s…

Cult of the Coca-Cola King

He sees you when you're sleeping,
He knows when you're awake,
He's off his medication,
So be good for goodness sake.

Download parameter file particle.xpf

It's all stuff you've heard before. Traditionally, Saint Nicholas and Father Christmas had a slim build and dressed more like normal people of their historical period.

Then came the Coca-Cola coup d'etat. Big and fat (but apparently healthy), red and white, naughty and nice.

What could have become another transient ad campaign, instead transformed the popular image of Santa.

What else? The attribution of divine qualities and a growing cult of zombie followers.

Since when did Saint Nicholas, an actual person, come to be all-knowing and capable of the omnipotent act of passing righteous judgement on all children, in the form of gifts, in a single night?

Well, things change, new "traditions" start and old traditions grow and develop as they are influenced by the trends of the people who practise them.

What are …

Song of the Machine

Who has ever raised a toast,
to the lifeless apparatus?
Yet so many have warmed their ears and minds,
from the sounds of Spratta-tatus.


Download parameter file ship.loo

What if machines were intended to be sculptures, and their productive functions were just part of the show?

What if the purpose of a car was to produce the painstaking artwork of used tires?

The Chinese never developed firearms, but they invented gunpowder. What if gunpowder was never designed to do anything other than make loud noises at parties?

Have you seen the movie, Robots? I haven't, but I've seen the bubblegum cards and the advertisements.

What if the purpose of movies was to make beautiful logos and awesome advertising?

The most appealing things I've seen lately are the wrappers around Japanese rice crackers. What if the purpose of a rice cracker was to give form to an elegant wrapper?

In the book, Mosquito Coast, by Paul Theroux, or somebody, the inventor character says something to the effect…

Behold, the Fractal Camel

You never know what your feet will pick up when you're exploring the beanstalk.

Download parameter file camel.loo

It's kinda wierd isn't it? The combination of Middle Eastern culture with a Northern European, mid-winter celebration: Camels and Christmas trees.

Good King Wenceslas never rode a camel, or probably even saw one.

Holly and Frankencense: A very unlikely romance.

The wise men showed up late. Actually, there's something that fits with Christmas. It's always difficult making travel plans when a snow storm can close the caravan routes for weeks.

Mary and Joseph had to stay with the camels in the camel-garage. Well, that fits too. Everyone comes to visit for Christmas, I slept on the floor once myself.

Maybe there's a few parallels. But here's something really strange.

The pagan symbols we still retain as part of Christmas: candles; yule logs; evergreen trees; are in fact perfect symbols of the Jewish Messiah.

Candles: Light in the darkness of winter.…

The Gorgon heads of Christmas

It's not enough to chop one off, you've got to burn the stump too.

Download parameter file square04.loo

Consider the approach of King Ghidorah, the three-headed monster, enemy of Godzilla. See if you can hear, ever so faintly, "Ho, ho, ho."

His triple heads twisting senselessly, they rake the houses with electric bolts. Returning, without method or reason, he obliterates one house and leaves another.

Ploughing the cities, turning their gold back into straw.

Yes, amidst the crackle of the flames and the screeching of his reptilian cries... sleigh bells.

The brimstone nose of Rudolf announces the monster's return. The people come forward, bent, slaves to the seasonal spasm of the gaping gut: consumerism incarnate.

Bloated but not full, the monster moves through the city, gleaning the streets. He drinks Coca Cola and sings of giving, but he moves the hands that take.

"I love the smell of gift-wrap in the morning" he says, sinking into his chair by the fire. &…

The fractals of Solomon

The eye never has enough of seeing, nor the ear its fill of hearing

Download parameter file mesh4.loo

One of the few books I read when I was younger, that I really liked, was Ray Bradbury's The Martian Chronicles.

I even read the introduction and a prologue or something where Ray Bradbury explains that he never actually intended to write a book, he just wrote a bunch of short stories.

The writer was never inspired to write a novel, but he was inspired to write about a place. The fragments of that place became a book.

Recently I read a book about the oil industry in Canada called Roughnecks and Wildcatters by Alan somebody. It was just a collection of anectdotes taken from interviews of people who had worked in every part of the oil industry.

I had trouble putting the book down. Each anectdote was a little magnet holding my attention and pulling me to the next one. I couldn't find a place to stop reading.

The semi-literate oil workers wrote this marvelous book. Their…

Chicken wire Christmas

Ever tried pulling chicken wire out of the frozen ground?

Download parameter file tree.loo

It's my turn. What is Christmas all about?

Christmas is a snowball.

Somewhere back in something-something B.C. northern european people made the winter solstice (Dec 21st or so) a special day. That was just the start of the snowball.

Later on in southern europe, a church official got the idea to reform the annual holiday with the title Christmas. Much of the pagan traditions stayed, like Christmas trees, mistletoe, holly, candles, lots of food, drinking, sweet foods, burning logs, and not working.

Later on the snowball was rolled around some more, and just like it would be if you were making a snowman, it picked up all sorts of leaves and twigs and other stuff.

There are a number of Christmas traditions. Some involve palm trees and going to the beach. Drinking is almost universal, in fact "Merry" used to mean "Drunken."

And so it's been over the years, the Christmas bal…

Go forth and fly in the kingdom of light

Shoovaloon! Great golden flash of... flashy golden... flash thing...

Download parameter file pastel01.loo

When I first started making fractals with Sterlingware, I used the default image size of 160x120 pixels. I thought the ideal image file size was 5k, but sometimes I would go as big as 10k if the image had a lot of detail and was pretty good.

Later I moved up to 160x160 and then 200x150. I still tried to keep to the 10k maximum.

I noticed that everyone else's fractals were huge and had file sizes of a couple hundred kilobytes. I thought that was just too big, unneccesary too.

But I then moved up to 300x300 and 300x400 and moved the max file size limit to 50k. Occasionally a really good one would step over that limit and hit 60 or 70k.

This week I stepped up to 500x375, which is also the default size for Xaos, and posted some images that were over 100k.

The longer I do this, the larger the images get and the fewer I make. At this rate I'll be up to 1000x750 in a year's ti…

Stumblin' in the neon glow

It's speaking in a secret alphabet too.

Download parameter file glow.loo

Well this is day four or something of the orbit counting sin()-cos() discovery. Who would ever have thought that something that had previously only produced junk could ever be so useful as this?

There's more. All we ever touch is the tip of the iceberg. The more we discover the more we realize that the tip is bigger than we thought.

There's an oceanic or marine biology project going on right now that's discovering amazing things in the ocean. New research technology combined with a nice chunk of cash is revealing more of the wonders of our planet.

There aren't enough taxonomists (or not enough money) to name all the stuff they've found so far. Whole species, nameless.

Some fish have been tracked electronically and found to be very busy. They swim like 12 feet per second for a whole month and cover something like 40 billion miles or something incredible like that.

What about Sterlingware? W…

I saw the alphabet singing

Flying forth from the cosmic chalkboard.

Download parameter file music.loo

Every once in a while I stumble on a nice piece of readymade art and feel a little ashamed, like some artistic conquistador, to claim it as my own.

But hey, that's maritime law, fractal salvage.

Back in high school art class, we had to plan our projects and make sketches before we could start flinging the paint or slapping the plaster.

I can just see the art teacher nodding with approval at a sketch of something like this. I'd get to go on to the final production phase now with my fait accompli instead of the usual getting inspired while you paint method.

Computing is really going to change a lot of things. Pentium Rumplestilskins, turning our straw mouse clicks into gold.

Is that why algorthmic art gets such a cold reception in the art world? Anyone can do it. But not anyone, them, the machines. They're confused with the concept of computers as artists.

Nobody likes to be replaced by a machine. It s…

Raytracing with Sterlingware

Get real, it's just a fractal program.

Download parameter file rayotron.loo

I like the textured, canvas look that these images have. Makes me feel like I'm a real painter and not just some jerk with a computer.

I upped the individual color values on the color dialog which has the same effect as upping the render number. I still can't figure out how color works with this program, but it's becoming more intuitive.

Until I saw this forming with my own eyes I would never have believed Sterlingware could produce something like this.

It has the photo-realistic look which Sterlingware excels in, so I guess it's not totally unique. But it's the textured look that is normally done by adding a texture layer, something Sterlingware doesn't do, that gives it that special elegance.

I've found that you have to cultivate objectivity. Fractals can be so amazing at times that one is tempted to save everything they make, to be "wowed" by the medium.

After seeing …


The dancing star of sugarland

Download parameter file spritzle.loo

See the joyful network of his little friends, holding hands and jostling about with tiny hops of happiness?

Let's see, how can I balance this fruity vision with a much needed dose of the sour macabe...

Slaves of Santa.

The first title in a series of grade B movies by an obscure Japanese production company known as NPP. Making a sudden leap from producing television commercials, NPP's first feature length production became the standard for Christmas movie disasters.

Buying out the screenplay, cast and studio from another company gone bankrupt trying to finish an overbudget horror movie, Moro Ishito, NPP's owner, hoped to turn it into an overnight Christmas hit.

From the dreary caves of "Santaland" where the elves revolt, to the incredibly violent counter-attacks by Santa and his reindeer over the North Pole, Slaves of Santa is as unChristmas-like as it is bizarre.

Unfazed by the cool response to this firs…

One step beyond

Every day I am bombarded by email from my readers. Lately, they all say the same thing: "Give us something Christmassy and sweet to look at, or we'll kill you."

Download parameter file letters06.loo

Here it is, fresh from Santa's hard drive.

This is my first attempt at faking the layering thing, which, as I've mentioned before, really makes fractal imagery rich, lush, and time consuming.

Let me tell you the story of how it came to be...

Once again, fed up with a lack of further fractal discoveries, I asked myself, "Is that all there is to Sterlingware?"

Having been in this, if you will permit me to use old seafaring terms, Sargasso Sea before, I began to think. I've learned that there's a time for tweaking the fine-tuning knob and a time for spinning the coarse-tuning dial.

The first few adjustments just made junk: arctan just doesn't seem to mix with orbit counting. Sin()-Cos(), on the other hand showed protential.

I had previously lowered the …

The Cauliflower that Killed

Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the produce section...

Download parameter file cauliflower.xpf

Do you ever wonder about poisonous plants?

There's so many of them. They may have beautiful flowers or exotic markings, attract all sorts of creatures with an alluring fragrance, and then poison them.

The toxins are very sophisticated and may only kill the most common predators while leaving others unharmed.

The most well known type of poisonous plant is of course the mushroom, although technically it's a fungi and not a plant...blah, blah, blah...

Nobody eats mushrooms while hiking or walking around anymore. Or, you could say, the number of people eating poisonous wild mushrooms has been decreasing every year.

My theory is: One of us is on the wrong planet.

What else would explain such a mismatch of living creatures?

There's a completely safe, edible mushroom that looks almost the same as another super-lethal mushroom in the amanita family or genus or something.

What do…

A few of my favorite things

Sing with me...

"Broken up bottles, shattered and fractured.
Ancient old photos, creased, torn and fissured.
Words without meaning arranged in a string.
These are a few of my favorite things."

Download parameter file rock.xpf

Everyone's seen the Sound of Music, haven't they? I'm sick of it. I've seen it so many times that last time I actually hoped the entire Van Trapp family would get machine-gunned. It's not dated, it was always an irritating movie.

Back to fractals. If you choose the Phoenix formula in Xaos and then push the M key to go into Mandlebrot mode, you see this jagged piece of flint.

I've also added the filters for edge detection 1 and anti-aliasing. In-coloring: Squares. Out-coloring: Color Decomposition. Bailout is lowered from 4 to 2.

The Phoenix formula makes very interesting Julia things. That's why the default for the formula is in fact already in Julia mode as opposed to Mandelbrot mode.

To make different Julia images you have t…


Or maybe, Green Finger Feet.

Download parameter file claws.xpf

It's funny the things you stumble on when you're experimenting with a fractal program.

The fractal machine forces us to consider things we would never have imagined.

Doesn't a painter or traditional artist at least have some idea what they're going to paint? Is the painting not a product of their thoughts, an expression of their mind?

Fractal programs on the other hand are purely mechanical entities and render an image according to the fractal parameters we choose, and do it in a very carefree and relaxed way, aloof to the comments of trivial humanity.

They produce things we can't imagine. They're creative.

This was the idea behind one of my previous blog ideas, Art from New Places.

It's possible to create computer programs that are creative, that is they make new things. They become a source of artistic imagery that is new.

It's not so easy to make a program that can produce "art." But…

Words and pictures

Pictures can tell a story and words can be nice to look at.

Download parameter file super.xpf

Quite often they compliment each other. At the very least, if one of them is weak, their combined effect makes it less noticeable.

Sometimes a block of writing beside a picture of something is a nice design element. How much more so when the writing has merits of its own.

I read a book on Typography (text presentation), which argued quite sucessfully that most advertisements containing text looked nice but are in fact almost unreadable.

Why? Because text is often used to add, no pun intended, a special "texture" to illustrations, and the designer forgets about the functionality of the text, that is, text can be read, it has meaning beyond its appearance.

The picture in the advertisement speaks to the audience and the words are just there to add, of all things, a graphic element. Perhaps most people never give more than a glance at a billboard or a magazine ad, so the text is rarely re…

Fractal Coil of Terror

Sinister coil of doom. Mysterious coil of fear. Evil cable of horror.

Download parameter file wonder.xpf

Mutant coil of insufferable devastation. Atomic circle-ray of pain.

Iterated cable of non-linear horror. Silver slithering telephone extension of disaster.

Marauding ringlet of incomprensible fear. Extraterrestrial DNA of terror.

Four-footed electophone of needless torture. Coiling, looping Yeti-tail of despondency.

Shocking co-axial vine of innumeracy. Startling continuum of binomial silence.

Appalling lamprey of disunity programming. Lurid scheme of non-contingent systematology.

Stunning radioactive transmission line of perplexed audacity. Remotely functioning mega-wire of irresponsible divisiveness.

Predatory tentacle of total nocturnal incisiveness. Fractal invasion of complex disconsolateness.

Hopeless lingering limb of copper containery. Obliterative climbing finger of superheated sononic pain.

Sensless collaborative concussion of ruminant theory. Collossal sky-train of unre…

A word about Eyecandy

"C'mon Pinocchio, stop trying to express profound thoughts with art and come join the circus with us!"

Download parameter file patina03.loo

I never thought Sir Sterlingware would produce such a sugary lollipop as this, but here it is.

I can still remember shifting the last slider on the color controls that brought this crunchy confectionary into sharp focus.

I've got some other variations which are harsher and more artistic, echoing the more wholesome, fiber rich and nutritious stuff I usually like.

I think our minds have various capacities or appetites. We all like fractal eyecandy, bright, supersaturated, magazine cover artwork, but some of us don't care for very much of it.

Others have more of a sweet tooth and like to linger all day in that warm glow of rich, candy-bar color.

There's a fractal calendar that has been criticized by some for having mainly fruity, eyecandy content. It's popular, people pay money to have a copy of it, bookstores and distributor…

Skyfish and Waterbird

There was a time when the birds lived in water and the fish flew in the air. Then one day they met.

Download parameter file rotobits01.loo

Skyfish was flying in the air over a lake. He looked down at the water below him and thought how nice it must be to live there. He was always dry and itchy, and he hated it.

He had flown down low to take a closer look. But today he flew too close and fell into the water.

Skyfish sank helplessly in the water and thought he was going to die. But just before he came to the bottom of the lake, something picked him up and carried him on its back.

The creature was covered in soft feathers and slowly returned him to the surface of the lake where Skyfish gasped for air.

"I am Waterbird," said the creature. "I've seen you looking into the lake before. Will you teach me to fly?"

"Why would you want to fly?" said Skyfish, "the sky is dry and makes my skin crack. I'm never going to fly again. I'm going to stay h…

Fractal arm of power

Inspiring a thousand perfect poses and outdoing them all.

Download parameter file spiral16.xpf

In every Barnsley formula in mandelbrot mode, regardless of the plane, there's a place where you find these riveted metal constuctions.

It reminds me of a picture I once saw in a history book about the huge hammer used in a German metal foundry called "Fritz."

Fritz was simple, primitive and powerful. I'm sure every foundry at that time had a hammer for pounding steel, but there was only one "Fritz."

This one's a good example of the variety of imagery created by fractals. So much detail. There's patterning and repeated structures, and yet every part of the picture is different and begs to be explored.

It's funny how movies like Metropolis used big clunky machines embossed with rivet heads the size of a human foot to symbolize modern technology.

I guess anything that didn't require a horse to help it function was considered magical and futuristic back t…

Fractal Watercolors

The closest I ever came to making real artwork was when the teacher showed us how to do a "wash."

Download parameter file watercolor01.loo

Drawing was hard and painting impossible, but covering the paper with water and painting on it seemed like cheating.

Today I see it as a primitive drawing program. The blurry shape of things to come, no pun intended.

The washing thing produces this fine airbrushed background that forms what us digital folks refer to as the background "layer."

Let it dry, a bit, and then paint any semi-neanderthalic scene on it and it looks not too bad, for a change.

I started with a washed out horizon. Added a washed out green ground area below and a washed out blue sky area above, then stopped to let it dry and started to actually imagine myself as being an artist someday.

Continuing with this "lots of paint" technique, I painted a fence line of short, scraggly hawthorne trees. The less I painted the more the washed background stood out a…

Vintage color

It's funny how old things can take on a new look in young eyes.

Download parameter file 500-05.loo

The "retro" and vintage look of old things never existed at the time they were made. In the context of newer things the old stuff now has a special look and appeal.

I like these two fractal images because of their old-style, primitive coloring appearance.

They have a "shifted" look suggesting the sloppy allignment of the different color plates in printing. In some areas the details are blotted out giving the effect of too much ink or a lack of transparency.

Maybe it's just me. I look at them and think of faded book spines and forgotten pages with color plates glued in place by hand.

Download parameter file 500-03.loo

The people who made them are all gone now. What inspired them is a matter of speculation for our unknowing minds. Maybe a dedicated historian or graduate student could weave theories about them that would leave us with a sense of revelation.

But in t…

The Metalunans Attack

I think it would make a cool alien spaceship, somewhat spider-like.

Download parameter file metalunan.loo

I don't know what it is about old science fiction movies that makes them so captivating to me. The current ones, since the mid-eighties, just don't have the same feel to them.

When I was growing up all we could get were two television channels and VCRs and video taped movies weren't really available.

The only venue for vintage sci-fi was the late night movie on CKNX or CKCO. They showed a lot of old stuff like the Carry On movies and Ma and Pa Kettle.

Once in a while they'd show something like the Andromeda Strain or "It! The Terror from Beyond Space." I was too young to stay up for the late night movie so I'd have to sneak downstairs, hoping my parents had gone to bed and try to be really quiet.

Sometimes I missed a lot of dialog because I couldn't risk turning up the volume too much and getting sent back to bed, ruining my secret sci-fi theater.