Put a Phantom on Your Wall
Hello, my name is Bob Jansen. I am an ex-professor and experimental artist who uses chaos math to create awesome high resolution fractal art. Backers of my projects get to download and print my super high resolution images for their own personal use: I get to keep experimenting with them.
In the past two years I have had six successful Kickstarter campaigns that use cloud distribution of my digital images and outsourcing of printing to backers. By eliminating shipping costs and supporting local printers my Kickstarter campaigns have generated thousands of small and large prints worldwide and saved backers the unnecessary cost and risk of moving hard copies via the mails. Backers will continue to generate home photo-paper prints for many years to come as gifts for friends. I expect that many of my digital images are also serving as desktop backgrounds or being presented in slide shows on big screen TVs.
The new project I am presenting today I call the Phantoms folio. The Phantom folio project will have the usual basic goal of $600, and any overage will go, as usual, to further experimental work with fractals. Campaign duration will again be 45 days.
My folios average 2 to 3 GB in size. I am moving my cloud source to DropBox, which has had consistently better downloading times than SkyDrive, (now called OneDrive because apparently some company had trademarked the word sky J). Files from previous folios will continue to be available to anyone who has the SkyDrive link. Both cloud sites seem unable to preview some of my files, apparently because their size is over 100 mb, but downloading the source file works fine on both.
How I make my fractal images.
The first thing people often say when viewing my art is: I have never seen anything like that. How do you do it? The flame fractal algorithm by Scott Draves (1992) which I use is an iterative pattern generator, but I am not just generating graphs of random chaos math functions. My creative process is dynamic and highly interactive with many aesthetic choice points. To begin, Apophysis generates small random-within-constraints strange attractors. The constraints I set involve choosing from the almost limitless permutations and combinations of about 100 different non-linear functions available open source.Usually I must generate many sample attractors before something turns up that looks promising. I can then further “mutate” the image, nudge it through another function or affine transformation, (translation, scaling, reflection, rotation, shear mapping, etc.) using a clever 2-D display grid in Apophysis that symbolizes affine transforms and their relationships as triangles with changeable sides and relative “position”. With each step in the process, I can test or create different color palettes. When I am satisfied with the image, I render it in high resolution using Draves’ iterative function system that randomly samples and converges pixels on an image plane which I usually set at 7200 x 10800. Histograms (counters) are created for each pixel and colors are assigned using their log-hit densities. The quality or resolution detail of the rendered image depends on how many random samples are taken. The minimal rendering process on my fastest (i5, four core, 32 GB RAM) computer typically involves an amazing 10 million iterations per second for as long as 6000 seconds of processor time.Finally, the rendered image is compressed (jpg or png) and sometimes cropped or adjusted for brightness, contrast or hue using Adobe Photoshop or Illustrator. (I have recently been experimenting with what I call “postfractal” images. I take a finished high resolution flame fractal and do various digital graphic manipulations, usually in Photoshop, that change it, sometimes quite a lot, by distorting or moving portions of the image. My next folio will certainly contain some postfractal images).
That is the bare bones of my fractal algorithmic method, but, of course, what goes into the artistic judgments is another story.It involves what psychologists call apperception.
Flame fractals engender projection or apperception because they have the same deep structure as natural objects: they look almost like something in nature. “Reading” tea leaves, human palms, bones, or animal entrails have been used for millennia by soothsayers to evoke mysterious or unexpected portents, undoubtedly projected from the unconscious mind of the fortune teller. It is no coincidence that leaves, bones or entrails and even human palms, are fractals. Turbulence in fluids or gasses is also fractal, as Hamlet notes to Polonious.
HAMLET : Do you see yonder cloud that’s almost in shape of a camel?
POLONIUS: By th' mass, and ’tis like a camel indeed.
HAMLET: Methinks it is like a weasel.
POLONIUS: It is backed like a weasel.
HAMLET: Or like a whale.
POLONIUS: Very like a whale. Hamlet, Act 3, Scene 2
Even though it was an interest in Karl Jung and his archetypes that got me to go to grad school, my doctoral training in psychology was with the author of a well known Freudian projective test. Like Freud and Jung, we didn’t agree on many things, but I learned a lot about how and why people manage to form coherent perceptions from ambiguous or semi random visual stimuli, like Rorschach’s ink blots or the Thematic Apperception Test (TAT). The idea is simply that if a stimulus image is ambiguous or degraded we tend to project our unconscious expectations onto what we do see, thus revealing unconscious or preconscious psychic structures. (Militant Freudians make a meal of this, seeing the structures detected as “defense preferences” related to psychosexual stages of development. J)
I most often manipulate my fractal images until I “see” something, which then becomes the image name. It can be something trivial like an animal or something profound, like a Jungian archetype. Often what I see reminds me of a cell type or other natural shape.
Of course all abstract artists are dynamically projecting their psyche onto their images in some way or other. I think the main difference between doing this with a paint brush and using a fractal image generator is that the fractal artist begins with a complex image rather than a blank canvas. In either fractal or paint one meanders though many images before abandoning the work. More and more as I work with fractals some subsequent mutation displaces the starter image so that the finished image looks nothing at all like the one that began the journey.
Recent printing experiments have involved printing (double strike) flame fractals onto transparencies like Plexiglas or Polyethylene terephthalate (PETG).03, and displaying them in windows or light boxes like stained glass. The effect in fractals is so much better than stained glass because fractals are super high resolution and can mix thousands of colors.
Backers can do this inexpensively (about $3 per image) in ordinary ink jet letter sized home printers using Apollo Ink Jet Printer Transparency Film CG7039, but you must print three of them and superimpose them on each other to make the colors vivid enough. I tape one print down on a backlit or white surface, then add the other prints. Tape one edge with painters tape when you get the images lined up, lift like a hinge to spray a little transparent adhesive, put it down on the first print, then repeat the process for the third one. I mount them in a plexi vertical sign holder stand ($8, Office Depot) and put it in a window.
Better professional printing companies can (important to double strike) .093 Plexiglas or .03 PETG in much larger sizes for about $15 per square foot. Looks so good that the printer guys want a copy.
You can do many other things with high resolution digital images. Specialty printing sites generally require jpg’s with a 50 mb limit, so you might have to reduce some of my fractals to lower resolution in a program like Photoshop. Sometimes they will do it for you. See https://www.megaprint.com
Also check out http://Cafepress.com to make calendars, iphone cases, photo mugs, or even shower curtains with your fractal images.
For reference, here are some more relevant links;
My previous folios on YouTube.
Wildfire folio video on Youtube : http://youtu.be/S0HM3hR03f8
Spider folio video on YouTube:http://youtu.be/QRjXwcF-Wp4
YouTube for Warbird: http://youtu.be/jmEkDseMoc0
Wormhole folio video on Youtube : http://youtu.be/AZODPVte1xc
Darkman folio video on Youtube : http://youtu.be/uecfkx3EiXQ
Faces in Chaos video on YouTube: http://youtu.be/Hu8YtqNBih4
Links for the previous Kickstarter projects:
Risks and challenges
Since this is my seventh successful Kickstarter project, I have encountered most problems and dealt with them. Most recently I have moved my cloud downloading site to DropBox for better and faster response time.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (45 days)