Put a Postfractal on Your Wall
Hello, my name is Bob Jansen. I am a psychologist and experimental artist who uses chaos math and psychoactive projective techniques to create awesome high resolution digital art based on flame fractal algorithms. Backers of my experimental projects get to download and print my super high resolution images for their own personal use.
In the past two years I have had seven 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.
I am calling my eighth project, Put a Postfractal on Your Wall. I’ll explain what that is in a minute. The project will have the usual basic goal of $600, and any overage will go, as usual, to further experimental work with fractal-based art. Campaign duration will again be 45 days.
How I make “postfractal” images.
The first thing people often say when viewing my work is, I have never seen anything like that. This is probably true if you frequent conventional art galleries. My images are a combination of psychology, design, and mathematics: conventional art galleries with juries composed only of fine artists seem unequipped to deal with my images. Actually, for me this is normal. In graduate school I had to take B-exams in three subject areas of psychology, (cognitive, perception and personality), because my work spanned all three areas.
I use the flame fractal algorithm created by Scott Draves (1992) 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. It is probably most similar to computer-aided design, (CAD) used by architects. Perhaps we could call it chaos-aided projective design.
To begin, I use Apophysis to generate 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. (Non-linear in this instance does not mean there are no straight lines visible in it. Non-linear functions simply do not perform the same operation on all elements of the array.)
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 set very large, usually 7200 x 10800 pixels. Histograms (counters) are created for each pixel and colors are assigned using their log-hit densities.
The quality or resolution 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 12 million iterations per second for as long as 6000 seconds. Finally, the rendered image, which is quite large, is compressed (jpg or png) to make it more manageable for downloading.
To make what I am calling “postfractal” images I take a finished high resolution flame fractal and do various digital graphic manipulations in Adobe Photoshop or Illustrator that change it, sometimes quite a lot, by cropping or adjusting for brightness, contrast or hue, or by distorting or moving portions of the image.
That is the math/computer dimension of my CAD (Chaos-Aided-Design) method, but, of course, what goes into the artistic judgments is a horse of a different color.It involves what psychologists call apperception or projection.
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 is also fractal, in fluids or clouds, as Hamlet notes to Polonius in Act 3, Scene 2:
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.
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, my adviser and I 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. 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. Freudians see the structures detected as “defense preferences” related to psychosexual stages of development. Other theorists are less sexy.
At UCSB I myself experimented with the ability to see patterns in random visual arrays, manipulating the ability in subjects using post hypnotic suggestions. Subjects were able to quickly “see” all sorts of things in random displays if instructed to do so while hypnotized. I have recently and quite by accident, found that viewing abstract art upon first awakening from sleep is a similar state, in that a person “sees” many more objects in the art than appear in a normal waking state. I recommend trying this yourself when you first wake up. This effect lasts only a few minutes, about as long as one is able to remember dreams. Freud called dream consciousness Primary Process and it could simply be that a person is still in this dreaming state when they first wake. Frederick Myers called this strange state between sleep and waking hypnopompic.
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.
It is impossible to show in 1080 resolution just how much more detailed my images are. You really need to open one of my images in a photo viewer like windows live photo gallery, and move between the image size that fits your window, and the full sized image. You can just zoom into the image using your mouse wheel or the slider at the bottom. I have decided to give everyone a free download of Phantoms Meet, one of my high res images to try this. When you get to dropbox, you can view the image using their onsite photo viewer, but that uses a downsampled version of my image. You must actually download the image, which takes a few minutes, save and open it into your default photo viewer where you can play with the original image and zoom in or out. Please don’t forget to come back to this project.https://www.dropbox.com/sh/s2xt10vdgpm899u/fSv5hyLaEv
If you don’t want to do this, here is a video that tries to present the same information.
My folios average 2 to 3 GB in size. How many images in each folio varies a bit. I often do several versions of one fractal, signed or unsigned, different colors, different resolutions, different proportions, tweaked parameters, etc. When I do a new treatment I just add it to the folio folder. Some folios have more alternatives than others but you always get at least the original set shown on Kickstarter. Here is a list of the number of downloadable files in each folio. Wormhole: 31, Warbirds: 27, Darkman: 26, Wildfire: 29, Spider: 42 (23 shapes), Faces: 27, Phantoms: 25. Postfractal folio has 22 more images, with a few alternates added. 229 total images extant up to April, 2014.
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). 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.
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 blue 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. Would make good lampshades as well.
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 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
Phantoms folio on YouTube:http://youtu.be/Vc6QiHQNegQ
Links for the previous Kickstarter projects:
Risks and challenges
Since this is my eighth Kickstarter project with fractal art most of the bugs have been worked out of the process. DropBox delivery is working smoothly, and prints are being delivered in good shape. I am always experimenting with new techniques and methods, however, so there are always these challenges, and internet security issues, of course.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (45 days)