Showing posts from January, 2006


They want so badly just to sing.

Download parameter file strings01.loo

I read something about an abstract artist called Kandinsky who contemplated the similarities between musical and visual art.

Some of this is sure to be wrong, but I think he felt that abstract art could be just as expressive as music since, if you think about it, music is also abstract and, as we all know, it's a very popular and powerful artform.

Some musicians were even influenced by Kandinsky's ideas.

Yeah... well it sounds interesting, no pun intended, but most of what I've seen by Kandinsky is not too exciting. There's a few intriguing ones. What a troglodite I am.

I think art and music have similarities and can complement each other and sometimes express the same things but they're also as different as two languages.

Rock videos illustrate this quite well: seeing and hearing often don't mix. When they do it's the result of hard work or accident.

It's good that pictures are silent. …

Amazing Wonders

When you're the only one on board, you're the captain.

It started off as a photo of a glacier, although that might not be obvious.

Original Photo

This is the type of image that I find interesting. It challenges me. It compels me to ask, "Will I come to my senses and delete all this tommorrow?"

In some abstract art, I see the DNA of imagery become unravelled and recombined to make things that defy explanation and reveal the machinery of visual experience.

I may see something attractive in the image and yet I can't justify it or explain it. I often doubt my own judgement.

It's easy to comment on conventional things, things that fit into established categories. We know how others will respond to what we say because we've heard them respond to the same things before. It's safe.

But to look at what no one has seen before and determine its value requires us to think for ourselves. We have to possess our own standards, our own measuring tools.

They way I see i…

Convergence of Art

Could music, writing, visual art and every other creative activity be different parts of a single thing?

Download parameter file double.xpf

I can see all artforms coming together, converging into some all-inclusive sphere of creativity.

Inside, one single artistic, creative essence spreads out from the center of the sphere. Manifesting itself as poetry, and at the same time, in another part of the sphere, as fiction, paintings, sculpture, music.

The creative flame, the core and source of every type of art, giving life and utterance in a thousands artforms.

The sphere, now floating in space, fills with creativity and becomes pure white. It starts to turn, slowly.

Look, off in the distance, out of deep space, something is coming.

It's like a golf-club. Get out of the way!

Oh! What a swing, art is gone!

No, it's coming back. It's a comet now, forever passing through space. An endless journey of brilliant, blazing light and beauty.

No. It landed in a black hole.

Now we've got …

Ville de Colour

That's funky-talk for Color Town.

I came to a real road-block in colorizing photos. I used to do this a lot, but now it just wasn't working.

I did something very cerebral and mature, for a change: I went back and looked at the good ones and asked, "Why did it work?"

Naturally, at first, nothing came of it. Then as I reasoned my way through the mental brambles I came to the old pathway.

Original Photo

Open any image in Irfanview. If it's color, make it greyscale or desaturate. Reduce color depth to 8.

You now have a BW photo made of 8 different shades of sand. The Irfanview dithering or indexing "algorithm" creates a wonderful sand-like texture while maintaining the original image's structure quite well.

The graphics program I use, the GIMP, has a greater choice of indexing algorithms but none of them look as good as the single one in Irfanview.

Continuing down this well-worn path we first switch the image to RGB mode from Indexed mode. Next, I may ad…

In search of...

Fire Snails from Alpha Centauri.

Download parameter file fountain01.loo

Perhaps you know something about coral, or even sea snails, but I'll bet you've never even heard about sea slugs.

Some are quite big, and they are of course fleshy and unprotected as they lack a shell just like regular slugs.

What was I talking about?

Sea slugs. They have no enemies because they taste bad. And they have wild far-out colors although they themselves are blind or something.

Yes, the fractal here looks like one. In fact sea slugs eat by dragging a jagged tongue over whatever they are moving across. The curved pattern there looks a bit like the mouth and tongue.

Anyhow, they stick out like orange pylons on the sea bed but nothing bothers them because they have an extremely bitter taste but aren't actually poisonous.

But I don't know, just because they taste bad shouldn't be enough to deter all potential predators. What if some shark is starving? Wouldn't even a sour slug taste bet…

Something completely different

Photographic post-processing

Hey, you can't get excited about fractals and not have some interest in other art stuff. I like tinting old photos in my graphics program.

I don't actually tint them by hand or anything. I experiment with various filters and effects until something good happens.

If not, I move on to another.

Original Photo

What I like about the whole thing is that it's so simple and yet the results can be really amazing.

There isn't a whole lot of talent involved, but it does help if you're familiar with a number of basic graphical effects. Other than that, the computer does all the work.

Many fractal artists use a fractal program as just the start of their creative process and not the final step like I usually do. They then process the image further in a graphics program.

This is the same thing but with photographs.

Mostly it's a matter of using a good dithering algorithm to reduce the number of colors in the image to like 6 or 8 and then gradient mappi…

Familiar places

Coastlines are different, but water is the same.

Download parameter file coastal.xpf

I was at a lakeside park here in Toronto once. The lake was big, you couldn't see the other shore.

I saw people standing and staring out into the lake. There's not much out there, the occasional boat, and like I said, you can't see the other shore, just the watery horizon.

The park is near a place in the city where refugee claimants are often temporarily housed in seedy motels. The park would be a very pleasant diversion.

Of course, half the city is from somewhere other than Canada: it's actually the most multi-cultural place on earth.

I observe all sorts of foreign customs and practices each day here, while shopping, driving or just looking out the window. There's no need to go travelling, everybody's here.

But all these people standing on the shore and quietly staring out into the distance was something new.

I started to do it too, wondering if there was something out there after…

Fractal Noir

Wisdom brightens a man's face and changes its hard appearance

Download parameter file pillar1.xpf

I like Film Noir, it's my favorite.

What is Film Noir? I've never looked for a definition, but here's a few thoughts.

Film Noir is the part left out of all those other movies. The heavy husk that restores wholeness, like bran and wheat germ does to white flour.

It's the hidden half of the equation that explains our futile reasoning.

It's the camera turned on the audience before they have a chance to act.

Download parameter file salty.xpf

Film breaks free from the earth and then looks downward,

not really film at all,


He planted something on the canvas, and it grew up through the movie screen.

Film of the Spanish shadow. Cloud of Dali.

They call it noir, "black," or dark, but that darkness is just the shadows, the other side of daylight, the boundary of brighter things, just as night is the shore that day departs from.

Taxonomy of Art

Not everyone shares my obsession with sorting things: books, firewood, artwork...

Download parameter file ring.xpf

Maybe it's pointless, but every now and then I like to stop and sort the art world into different compartments. Perhaps it's a disorder.

Like a puzzle, or some brain teaser game, it's just for fun, a break from doing serious things.

Download parameter file ring2.xpf

Or is it?

Maybe it's some strange, mythical, apocalyptic thing. Maybe when the essential categories of art have been discovered and recorded...

The whole universe will stop.

And instantly roll up like a spring-loaded blind, revealing a new vista of wonders and intrigue.

Are there essential forms from which all visual phenomena is contructed, the atoms of art? An underlying architecture that can be seen if you look closely enough?

Download parameter file ring3.xpf

Maybe there isn't. Maybe art is primarily subjective and we need to look at the subject rather than the object, in this case the viewers…

Golden haze

Busted Art: The algorithm of destuction.

Download parameter file fuzzyswirl01.loo

Settle down, this is a serious discussion about algorithmic art, art made from mechanical activity.

Or maybe that's not the common definition. I've simplified things.

Anyhow, have you ever come across a fragment of something, like a rock or broken piece of glass, brick, porcelain, or whatever, that looked more interesting than the original object?

Well, on second thought, maybe that's a pretty wierd question. But I have noticed that smashing things can create interesting fragments.

The breaking pattern is probably determined by the way the object is hit and influenced by the structure of the material the object is made of. In other words, it's not something you control or direct, but something you merely initiate.

The end result is unpredictable but characteristic of the process that made it.

Framing up a detail of a fractal image is a type of busting, smashing or fragmenting process. Similar…


When the eye is old
When the eye is tired
Of searching and finding nothing
It sits down to rest
And sees wonders on the ground.

Download parameter file candystick01.loo

Who tells it where to look or how to see?

Download parameter file candystick02.loo

Who says to their eye, "Not there, look only here."

Download parameter file candystick03.loo

When does it stop paying attention and refuse to blink?

Download parameter file candystick04.loo

Even closed, the eye looks deeply into the eyelid.

Download parameter file candystick05.loo

Dreaming, the eyes are wildly awake,.

Download parameter file candystick06.loo

In death, the eyes stay open, but we know that they are dead.

Fractal Room and Board

Common things are not necessarily easy to make.

Download parameter file watermandel01.loo

A while ago, someone who plays the guitar told me that because we see so many people playing the guitar in movies and on television, most people think it's easy.

In other words, because it's common, we assume it's easy, or simple.

I think the same goes for just about everything else in our culture: Art, Music, Writing, Sports, Languages, Martial Arts, Photography, Knitting, Woodworking, etc...

We see so much talented stuff around, we think it's easy to do those things.

Just try standing on a surf board without falling off. On TV they make it look so easy. Skateboarding, same thing.

I forgot singing, or acting. One high school musical or play will teach the most important lesson of all: it's not easy.

Fractals are not quite the same. They are easy to make.

It's like photography, something else which looks easy, you just need the equipment. A good photograph however, is anothe…

Crouching Tiger, Fuzzy Fractal

Download parameter file fuzzy.loo

What's got three heads and makes movies? Whoever made the movie Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.

First head: Jean Cocteau. The night-time fight scenes, or pursuit scenes between what's her name and the other woman. They could be spliced right into Black Orpheus and you'd never know.

Second head: Sergio Leone. This is more complicated. But a tiny woman, with a big sword, clearing out a frontier saloon full of men has Leone's sense of irony or sense of something like that.

Third head: Someone who films panoramic stuff. I can't think of any names. Hey, maybe that head is faceless. The head with no face.

The beginning of the movie is very slow but has ornate surroundings, which is how the fractal here is related. It has an aged laquerware look, or a patina to it, like many of the ornate wooden things in the film.

There's a well developed tradition of decorative art in the Orient that we just don't have here in the West.

The p…

Fine art with the foot

Is Kung fu a type of calligraphy?

Download parameter file marble01.loo

I don't know much about martial arts, and I'm not a Bruce Lee fan, but there's something artistic about the way he uses the nunchuks.

I watched Return of the Dragon the other night. Bruce does it all: star, director and writer too. As movies go, it's pretty bad most of the time.

Until he starts to fight. Then it's like full contact ballet. Imagine Baryshnikov prancing about to the sounds of smashing tables and cracking skulls. Kung fu is the art Ballet could have been but failed.

Nureyev with nunchuks. Renoir of the roundhouse.

It's interesting how something so violent as kicking people in the head can be done so gracefully and with such refined table manners.

In fact, I get the feeling that Kung fu is ultimately an art or performance sport like gymnastics or ballet and only a method of fighting as a way to pay the rent.

Chuck Norris and a couple other westerners are in the movie, but they see…

I'm still adjusting to the year 2000

I don't know, two thousand and anything sounds like science fiction to me.

Download parameter file cuzco7.loo

What wondrous dates have we looked at from a distance, walked over, and moved on?

1984 by George Orwell; Space 1999 by somebody; 2001 by Stanley Kubrick.

What's left: 2010, a sequel to 2001; 2112 an album by the rock group Rush.

It seems the two thousand thing doesn't mean what it used to. That's because we're here, of course. Nothing mysterious or speculative about the present.

HG Wells wrote a book that became a movie, The Shape of
Things to Come. No number with it. We can never say we've past that place.

Of course Orwell wasn't suggesting anything by using the date 1984. It was just a catchy title for that time.

Alright, so what's the point? Forget that, how about this: Time is like a video game, the kind where you drive a car and move down a road but actually it's the road that moves, the events scroll past you, and the car you manoeuvr…