Showing posts from October, 2008

The Day the Land Came Together

I remember
the day the land came together

There was a scroll for everything
the sky, the rocks and the sea

The scrolls were read
and the land came together

He read the sky scroll
and then dropped down through the sky
He read the Earth scroll
and then dropped down to the Earth

Then he walked around and everywhere he found a scroll he read it
and something new happened

As words echo
so the scrolls ran together
First a sound
then a symphony
then something strange

There are other scrolls
still to be read
but now is not the time

These are strange times

(Image made in Fyre)

All these things appeared as nothing

III. At this time it came to pass that there was strife between Count Don Gomez the Lord of Gormaz, and Diego Laynez the father of Rodrigo; and the Count insulted Diego and gave him a blow.

Now Diego was a man in years, and his strength had passed from him, so that he could not take vengeance, and he retired to his home to dwell there in solitude and lament over his dishonour.

And he took no pleasure in his food, neither could he sleep by night, nor would he lift up his eyes from the ground, nor stir out of his house, nor commune with his friends, but turned from them in silence as if the breath of his shame would taint them.

Rodrigo was yet but a youth, and the Count was a mighty man in arms, one who gave his voice first in the Cortes, and was held to be the best in the war, and so powerful that he had a thousand friends among the mountains. Howbeit all these things appeared as nothing to Rodrigo when he thought of the wrong done to his father, the first which had ever been offered to t…

The Chronicle of The Cid

II. In those days arose Rodrigo of Bivar who was a youth strong in arms and of good customs; and the people rejoiced in him, for he bestirred himself to protect the land from the Moors.

Now it behoves that ye should know whence he came, and from what men he was descended, because we have to proceed with his history. Ye are to know therefore, that after the treason which King Don Ordono the Second committed upon the Counts of Castille, that country remained without a chief: the people therefore chose two judges, of whom the one was called Nuno Rasuera, and the other Layn Calvo, who married Nuno's daughter, Elvira Nunez.

From Nuno Rasuera King Don Ferrando descended, and from Layn Calvo, Diego Laynez, who took to wife Dona Teresa Rodriguez, the daughter of Don Rodrigo Alvarez, Count and Governor of Asturias, and had by her this Rodrigo.

In the year of the Incarnation 1026 was Rodrigo born, of this noble lineage, in the city of Burgos, and in the street of St. Martin, hard by the palace…

Beware... The Overlords!

Actually, we're all safe.  I don't think they'll bother too many of us.  They've come to Earth in search of fresh brains to power their empire.  Most of us will just get slapped with a Defective tag and sent home.

Which brings me to something else: we need new frontiers in the Sci-fi/Weird Tales department of pulp-type fiction.

I like reading the classic rayguns and spaceships Sci-fi stuff, but it's not something that anyone can really write about anymore.  It just doesn't have the same credibility.

Aliens or alien life of any type just doesn't seem plausible anymore.  So many Sci-fi adventure stories revolved around the encountering of alien (non-Earth) people, plants and animals -- alternative Earths.

Today the Universe looks very empty, and not because we don't have the imagination to fill it up with things but because our own explorations of it (mostly by telescope or space probes) have shown it to be both full of the potential for life and yet complete…

Glistening Cave of Justice

Grasshopper, do you still doubt the power of Clickism?  Are you not convinced that strange new wonders can come from the diligent application of photoshop filters?

Consider this, then.

The above diagram was the original image which I started with which eventually became the black and white image at the top -- all from clicking.

It's been more than a year now, but I think I started off with multicrystal which produces the sierpinski glass block look (oh sure! we all know what that looks like!).  Then I probably India Inked it using the Ostromoukhov pattern (sand grains).  Then Overlap 4 to get the 45 degree angle faces and add some new recombinant features to it (recombinant features?).

Finally, it was off to the Boris Karloff of filters: Extractor 1.  That's where the rich deep black and white contrasts come from.

Of course the whole process could have gone off the road and just become a lot of mush, which is what often happens.  But I took the road less travelled.  And that's …

Winter Arrives on the Golden Land

Although it's completely accidental, these images made in InkBlot Kaos and filtered with India Ink.8bf create in my mind a vivid image of Winter and it's effect on human activity.

Winter, like the tornado-armed amorphous monster in the picture, chases everything either indoors or underground.  Subsequently, as we see in the golden, glowing subterranean depths of the foreground, Winter turns everything into a refuge.

I've always found this intriguing; while the indoors of a house or the bottom of a rodent's hole in the Summertime seems stifling and stale, they are transformed by the arrival of Winter into a place of comfort and security.  No one tells the animals or the people to stay indoors and yet both do so instinctively.

In the old days people went outside much more in the winter because they had work to do and because they were bored with being indoors.  Ironically, in our much more modern times we spend the winter living more like animals than we ever did in the pas…

Distort and Contort

You know, once you've allowed yourself to be photographed you've really given the world free reign to distort and contort your appearance.  I think of all the political news stories that feature photos of public figures that appear to be good illustrations of the contents of the story and yet predate the events depicted and were taken under circumstances often unrelated or even conflicting with the events of the news story which they were chosen to illustrate.

The old expression, "the camera never lies", seems like a reasonable thing to say in the context of the written accounts of eye-witnesses which often conflict with regards to important details, but what we see is often misunderstood and for that reason, the camera can deceive.

I've blockwaved a hundred-year-old tinted photograph of a famous person off the Wikipedia.  That noble, inspiring man whose contribution to history has benefited hundreds of millions of people has been distorted here by me into some fri…

Snapshots From a Cannon

A sequence of four still images from a rapidly exploding digital cannon blast.   Each image was rendered in crisp B&W using Extractor 1 and derived from the same image which was made with a whole bunch of filters like Overlap 4 and starting out with a Tierazon fractal.  Post cannon-blast commentary to follow, below.

Extractor 1, although producing extremely simple, 2-color images, can be very creative when you have an image with a lot of detail and ironically, a great deal of color depth.  It's almost like shining a bright light at various angles over a surface with a high degree of detail; there seems to be no end to the interesting variations that one can make.  Other times?  You get what looks like big ugly splotches of India ink.

It just goes to show that you never know what a simple filter can do until you try it out on a variety of images.  And when you combine it with others, the possibilities multiply and the results are hard to predict and, once in a while, quite surpri…

Bubble Fish

The loneliest living species known to science was found inside a gold mine.

Desulforudis audaxviator, or bold traveller as it is known in English, relies on water, hydrogen and sulphate for its energy.

The rod-shaped bacterium was found 2.8km (1.74 miles) beneath the surface of the Earth in the Mponeng mine near Johannesburg, living in complete isolation, total darkness and 60C (140F) heat.

It was identified in DNA extracted from water-filled cracks in the mine.

The bug's name is partially based on a sentence in Latin from Jules Verne's novel Journey to the Centre of the Earth: "Descende, Audax viator, et terrestre centrum attinges", which translates as "Descend, Bold Traveller, and attain the centre of the Earth".

(Story from BBC NEWS Oct 10, 2008.  Image made from a fractal and a bunch of filters.)

Clicking to pieces

In addition to seeing the occasional interesting image, another exciting thing about making art from pushing buttons and turning dials is observing the graphical progression (or decay) of an image as it evolves into something (or nothing) after being filtered through numerous effects and plugins.

Consider this innocent, innocuous fractal made with Xaos:

First we India Ink it (below):

Ah. How delightful.  Next (below), we do something to the color and India Ink it with Ostromukhov.

Here's a variation (below) with some color filtering and the Mosaic Toolkit to add the square effect.  Not bad.

I forget what did this (below), but it's a variation of the mosaic image above.  Things are getting "different".

Somehow, this "happened" (below).  More general coloring filters applied.  (Why did I ever bother saving this?)

This (below) is from using the Odd Kind of Pastel filter by Andrew Buckle, the prolific filter maker.

Hmmmn.  (Below). More unidentified clicking.  It's…

Thought Disease

22 And the Lord God said, Now the man has become like one of us, having knowledge of good and evil; and now if he puts out his hand and takes of the fruit of the tree of life, he will go on living for ever. 23 So the Lord God sent him out of the garden of Eden to be a worker on the earth from which he was taken. 24 So he sent the man out; and at the east of the garden of Eden he put winged ones and a flaming sword turning every way to keep the way to the tree of life.

(Text from the Bible, Image made with a whole bunch of filters but started out as a fractal.)


It's all about rendering -- how you render or flesh out the bones of a formula -- and less about what that formula itself can do.

It's taken me a few years to see that, although it ought to have been pretty obvious.  You can see it easily when you compare the outputs of several different fractal programs: similar formulas produce things that look very different.  Or to put it in more practical terms: what produces something great in one program can produce something mediocre in another.

In InkBlot Kaos, the main menu has a category called, "Filters".  This selection is what really makes or breaks the image.  The RGB color sliders are similar; they determines whether you get a fractal Vermeer or a fractal Ver-junk.

I guess that means it's important to have a program that gives you many rendering options.  But InkBlot Kaos, surprisingly, only has one!

When it comes to making art by pushing buttons and turning dials, you just have to try things out if you want to learn …

Lightless and Unplumbed

What had happened afterward we could only guess. How long had the new sea-cavern city survived? Was it still down there, a stony corpse in eternal blackness? Had the subterranean waters frozen at last? To what fate had the ocean-bottom cities of the outer world been delivered? Had any of the Old Ones shifted north ahead of the creeping ice cap? Existing geology shows no trace of their presence.

Had the frightful Mi-Go been still a menace in the outer land world of the north? Could one be sure of what might or might not linger, even to this day, in the lightless and unplumbed abysses of earth’s deepest waters? Those things had seemingly been able to withstand any amount of pressure - and men of the sea have fished up curious objects at times. And has the killer-whale theory really explained the savage and mysterious scars on antarctic seals noticed a generation ago by Borchgrevingk?

(Text from At the Mountains of Madness by H.P. Lovecraft, 1931.  Image made with the blockwave filter in S…

King Solomon's Cistern

It was all very well for Ventvögel to say that he smelt water, but we
could see no signs of it, look which way we would. So far as the eye
might reach there was nothing but arid sweltering sand and karoo
scrub. We walked round the hillock and gazed about anxiously on the
other side, but it was the same story, not a drop of water could be
found; there was no indication of a pan, a pool, or a spring.

"You are a fool," I said angrily to Ventvögel; "there is no water."

But still he lifted his ugly snub nose sniffed.

"I smell it, Baas," he answered; "it is somewhere in the air."

"Yes," I said, "no doubt it is in the clouds, and about two months
hence it will fall and wash our bones."

Sir Henry stroked his yellow beard thoughtfully. "Perhaps it is on the
top of the hill," he suggested.

"Rot," said Good; "whoever heard of water being found at the top of a

"Let us go and look," I put in, and hopelessly…

Sierpinski Sketches

A modest, but stylish, white concrete country house in Valencia, Spain perhaps?

Or is it the mutant spawn of the chewing, sierpinski-toothed photoshop filter, multicrystal.8bf by Ilyich the Toad?

(Above image)  Interesting modern rendition of the bright, summery, peaceful and pleasant scenes of Claude Monet?  Or Quilt of Chaos; Crushing by Numbers; Sierpinski Monster Eats It's Young; Don't Sleep in this Field Dorothy!

(Above)  Quaint Victorian engraving of two towers guarding a harbor entrance somewhere along the ancient Mediterranean coast (Alexandria?) on a lazy sunny afternoon?  No, no.  They're all just examples of the unpredictable creativity of mixing graphical effects and filters to make something completely new from another digital image.

You take any image, preferably one with a nice color scheme, and then "grind it up" a few times in multicrystal.8bf to get the sierpinski, square pattern.  They you India Ink it to give it the engraved, black lines texture. …

Something that was Art

Art is a snake continually shedding it's skin.  Crafts are snakes that continually repair and perfect their skin.  Crafts are not creative, and craftsmen are not creative except within that tiny space of stylistic variation they give themselves to wriggle.  Craftsmen are perfectionists and their goal is to create ideal things; they fix up old stuff, they don't make new things; they polish old doorknobs and varnish worn stair railings; if their coffin gets a scratch they come back to life and repaint it.

On the other hand, art is a snake continually shedding it's skin; changing; transforming; moving on; wiping the slate clean; reanimating itself in a lightning storm, and sees the craftsman's perfectionism as the mere worship of tradition; dead and lifeless;  wheel ruts;  sketching their own shadow; cut off from the very thing that created it in the first place -- something that was new and exciting, something that was Art.

(The image started off as a fractal made in InkBl…


The main feature of art is excitement.  Art, in its highest form is the things that excite the mind regardless, or in spite of being: not well made; or not properly made; accidentally made; thoughtlessly made; a poor example of what's been done before; unimpressive; not well received; hard to label; poorly presented; not well explained; retrieved from the garbage.

If the "thing" we're looking at ignites wonder or a chain reaction of strange new thoughts and feelings, mental aromas, then it's art and those who agree readjust their minds and welcome more of it.  Those who disagree, find solace and support in pointing out that this "thing" is: not well made; or not properly made; accidentally made; thoughtlessly made; a poor example of what's been done before; unimpressive; not well received; hard to label; poorly presented; not well explained; retrieved from the garbage.

(Image was made probably from a fractal that was filtered with a lot of things (Ind…


Art is the place of the niche, the specialist, the fanatic, the extreme tastes that seem to appeal to an obscure few.  One should expect wild variety and  many things that just plain look weird or if you had to display them you wouldn't know whether it was upside down or not or even which side of the canvas the "art" is on.  Confusion, and the charlatans who use it for cover, are common elements in any artform.  One needs to develop their own art compass because the direction they're heading in will soon be challenged by someone or something and possibly even themself.

"Because I like it" is a bold statement that provokes a response from the clever charlatan who, like a martial artist of debating, knows how quickly the unprepared and smiling art-tourist can be knocked down by a simple move like, "And who are you?".

It's a trap.  See how quickly he changes the subject from art to you?  It's a mind-game and easiest way to win is to shake your …

Fractal Mount of Transfiguration

Six days later, Jesus took Peter, James, and his brother John and led them up a high mountain by themselves. His appearance was changed in front of them, his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became as white as light. Suddenly, Moses and Elijah appeared to them, talking with Jesus.

Then Peter said to Jesus, "Lord, it's good that we're here! If you want, I will set up three shelters  —one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah."

He was still speaking when a bright cloud suddenly overshadowed them. A voice from the cloud said, "This is my Son, whom I love. I am pleased with him. Keep on listening to him!"  When the disciples heard this, they fell on their faces and were terrified.

But Jesus came up to them and touched them, saying, "Get up, and stop being afraid." When they raised their eyes, they saw no one but Jesus all by himself.

(Text from The Bible, International Standard Version.  Image made in InkBlot Kaos and filtered with India Ink …

Fractal Art

Fractal formulas can create astonishing things.  A lot depends on how the particular program renders them though.  The above image was made in InkBlot Kaos, one of a number of programs made by the well-known fractal programmer, Stephen Ferguson.

I particularly like InkBlot Kaos because I can made interesting things quickly and relatively easily but also explore variations in coloring and formulas just as easily.  This image uses the following formula entered into its simple formula parser: "atan(atan(2*(c))-(3.2^z)+c)^4"

I just made it up by playing around with numbers and the few trig things that it allows.  The possibilities are huge, particularly if you like to experiment with things like I do.

Below is the original image as it was rendered in the program.

I don't make the images, really;  I just push buttons and turn dials.  That's the other thing I like about fractal programs.

Here's a variation of the very first image which was India Inked.  I used the Mirror-Mi…

An Artistry Surpassing Anything Else

The things once rearing and dwelling in this frightful masonry in the age of dinosaurs were not indeed dinosaurs, but far worse. Mere dinosaurs were new and almost brainless objects - but the builders of the city were wise and old, and had left certain traces in rocks even then laid down well nigh a thousand million years - rocks laid down before the true life of earth had advanced beyond plastic groups of cells - rocks laid down before the true life of earth had existed at all. They were the makers and enslavers of that life, and above all doubt the originals of the fiendish elder myths which things like the Pnakotic Manuscripts and the Necronomicon affrightedly hint about.

They were the great "Old Ones" that had filtered down from the stars when earth was young - the beings whose substance an alien evolution had shaped, and whose powers were such as this planet had never bred. And to think that only the day before Danforth and I had actually looked upon fragments of their m…

The Most Daring Futurists

The technique, we soon saw, was mature, accomplished, and aesthetically evolved to the highest degree of civilized mastery, though utterly alien in every detail to any known art tradition of the human race. In delicacy of execution no sculpture I have ever seen could approach it.

The minutest details of elaborate vegetation, or of animal life, were rendered with astonishing vividness despite the bold scale of the carvings; whilst the conventional designs were marvels of skillful intricacy. The arabesques displayed a profound use of mathematical principles, and were made up of obscurely symmetrical curves and angles based on the quantity of five.

The pictorial bands followed a highly formalized tradition, and involved a peculiar treatment of perspective, but had an artistic force that moved us profoundly, notwithstanding the intervening gulf of vast geologic periods. Their method of design hinged on a singular juxtaposition of the cross section with the two-dimensional silhouette, and em…

No Ordinary City

For this place could be no ordinary city. It must have formed the primary nucleus and center of some archaic and unbelievable chapter of earth’s history whose outward ramifications, recalled only dimly in the most obscure and distorted myths, had vanished utterly amidst the chaos of terrene convulsions long before any human race we know had shambled out of apedom.

Here sprawled a Palaeogaean megalopolis compared with which the fabled Atlantis and Lemuria, Commoriom and Uzuldaroum, and Olathoc in the land of Lomar, are recent things of today - not even of yesterday; a megalopolis ranking with such whispered prehuman blasphemies as Valusia, R’lyeh, Ib in the land of Mnar, and the Nameless city of Arabia Deserta.

As we flew above that tangle of stark titan towers my imagination sometimes escaped all bounds and roved aimlessly in realms of fantastic associations - even weaving links betwixt this lost world and some of my own wildest dreams concerning the mad horror at the camp.

The plane’s f…

Clicking With the Anjouan Invasion

I started off with this image (below) that I got off the Wikipedia from their article on the 2008 Invasion of Anjouan.  I thought the mix of solids and gradients and generally pleasing colors would make good raw material for a Clickism gauntlet of graphics filters and effects applied with skill and recklessness and nothing more than mere mouse clicks.

If I remember correctly (and that's always doubful in Clickism) I used Ilyich the Toad's multicrystal.8bf to produce the sierpinski block pattern and then mirror, mirror to produce the symmetry.  There's undoubtably a few coloring filters in there as you can see the colors have changed.

Either before or after this, I resized the image and then tried the Extractor 1 filter on it that produces this two bit black and white type of image.  A rather interesting pagoda like result occurred.  Extractor 1 can make some really stunning things, but it takes some practice to find the right combination of effects.  Fortunately, experimenta…