Fractal Art isn't Rocket Science



The Fractal Art world is an odd place. The strange combination of technical people (mathematicians, engineers, programmers) and artsy, creative people is curious and could almost be the setting for a mystery novel. My wife once told someone at work about my fractal hobby and said they were really impressed after visiting my website that I knew so much about chaos theory and fractal math. Hmmn... I wondered, why would they think I knew anything about math?

Recently, while looking into things, I came across an interesting association of attributes: science credentials and Fractal Art. I "hmmn-ed" again. What's all this science stuff got to do with making fractal art? Would it help me if I had such a solid math and programming background as these super stars did? It doesn't seem to be helping them out too much. Although, honestly, some of the "scientists'" works had genuine artistic appeal.

The Rocket Scientists are the sword-makers of our artform. They adapt new fractal formulas and all that "chaos stuff", molding it into forms that are practical and useful in our hands. All our tools come from them, and the tools of the future will come from them also, not from people like me.

Blah, blah, blah... I could go on like this forever. I propose a toast, in honor of all the...


Houston, I have a problem


Moving on. What confuses things is that the "tool-makers" can also perform the role of "tool-users". But the skills and abilities that lead to good tool making are irrelevant when it comes to using those tools to make art. They might as well be two different people because when the "scientist" takes up the tool he made, he begins the same process of discovery as everyone else who takes up that tool.

Building the racing car vs. driving the racing car. Designing the airplane vs. piloting the airplane. Crafting nunchuks vs. swinging them like Bruce Lee. Making a guitar vs. playing that guitar.

Sure, the tool maker immediately knows how to operate the tool, and may know an awful lot about operating that tool, but being creative requires more skill than just being able to use the tools. Actually the tool maker may have a handicap: he may think he has an edge over the one who is merely a tool-user and come to think his tool-making experience gives extra weight and an enhanced quality to his artwork. Artistic activity has psychological challenges (objectively evaluating your work; creative inspiration) that the quantitative sciences have less of.

Fractal math is challenging and requires math skills that one can't acquire quickly (I'm guessing). Programming is another thing that takes dedication and work to be able to do well, especially when complex operations have to be presented via an interface that is easy to use. But Fractal Art is Art; it's got its own set of skills and talents, which in the same way, also count for nothing when applied to the world of mathematics.

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