About this project
Faces In Chaos Folio, 2013, R. D. Jansen, Ph.D.
Hello, my name is Bob Jansen, and I am a former research professor who makes abstract art using chaos mathematics instead of brushes and paint.I share my work with backers, who can download my ultra high resolution fractals and print them in large format, e.g. 4 feet by 6 feet, for personal use.
All computer graphics are based on math-like code, programming. In some cases, an analogto digital interface is used, a pen and tablet, for example, so that artists can sketch as though they were using a brush or pen on paper or canvas. My fractal images are not generated like this or like a photograph, but are mathematically extracted from numerical data sets called image planes using a chaotic iterative sampling process that takes many CPU hours.
I use fractals differently than most fractal workers. I am not trying to make a new age zooming kaleidoscopes. I am not even making homage to Benoit Mandelbrot, blessings be upon him, who discovered the dark matter in geometry that Euclid missed. I am basically an experimental artist ruthlessly using the flame fractal algorithm to my own devious aesthetic purposes. Most of my works don’t even look like classic fractals, no obvious self similarities or symmetries. Many look organic, like fantastic animals or even people.
As a former neuroscientist I believe that flame fractals resonate with human perception because our brain, and perhaps consciousness itself, is fractal. Fractals represent one of the few unequivocal bright spots in a world where math and science are increasingly depicted as dangerous, boring, or silly. Scientists understand and appreciate the mathematical elegance that lies within their disciplines. But fractals can show that inherent elegance to those with no math or scientific training at all. Fractals make mathematics not only visible but awesomely beautiful.
Long before Mandelbrot, ordinary drawing and painting used our eyes and hands to simulate nature, to draw semi random patterns of plants and trees with a brush, rather like television artist Bob Ross makes pine trees and mountain tops. When we realistically draw nature, we are copying fractals.
I have a life long history of investigating how we imagine and perceive images, and how this relates to the fractal shapes in Nature. Early on, as a painter and videographer I used analog methods to generate and record fractal shapes: turbulence, flames, bubbles, flowers, optical feedback loops, etc. I even spent six years as an experimental psychologist at UCSB creating images inside people’s brains by inducing visual hallucinations by means of verbal hypnosis. In a poetic sense, the flame fractal algorithm induces hallucinations inside the mind of a computer using commands it understands.
I give my images “names” because they are grown from a “genome” and are as unique as a person. The titles create a perceptual set in viewers which acts like a strange attractor in consciousness, makes them a pictographic symbol, a hieroglyph. I want people to read my images rather than just regarding them.
Faces emerging from Chaos?
Perhaps the most amazing part of rendering flame fractals is the occasional realistic human face that appears to be peeking out at you from behind a lot of chaos.
It reminds me of the “face” on Mars that UFO enthusiasts say constitutes proof of alien influence.
To them I say, Phah! I make faces every day simply by crashing non-linear functions into one another. Certainly one Martian face could happen when planetesimals collide for billions of years. Fractals often look like faces, as a matter of fact. Every year some farmer digs up a potato that looks just like George Bush, and for eons people talked about the man in the moon because the fractal surface looked like a smiling face.
Since humans are able to remember about ten thousand faces, it is apparent that we have a special capacity in memory for them. Research on face recognition suggests we use a few dozen prototypes, called eigenfaces, from which we add or subtract details. I have suggested in former projects that the flame fractal algorithm mimics human consciousness itself, both being iterative or reentrant processes that coalesce and converge patterns from apparently random data. The emerging faces from chaos are more evidence of this similarity.
Latent Prints. The algorithm I use to create fractal art repeatedly samples from many non-linear variables which form the confused topography of a 2D image plane. Imagine that each variable is a continent and the artist tectonically pushes them around into and on top of one another.
This process forms a dynamical system sensitive to initial conditions so “drawing” in a chaotic environment is unpredictable. Repositioning one non-linear topographic function relative to all the others doesn’t just “paint” a line or blob: It often catastrophically changes everything in the image.
Tiny changes can trigger autocatalytic landslides or explosions; conversely, some large movements do almost nothing. The artist can’t rely on pure randomness to do the compositional work either: the state space is just too large and full of ugly. A meat brain seems necessary. In addition, colors are added to the attractors in an unusual way, normal for digital graphics actually, but not at all like a conventional painter would do it. Each variable (function) is colorized separately using its gray scale gradient set to the log density of the sampling hits on each pixel. Most image planes have dozens of non-linear functions superimposed, so colors also get mixed up, convoluted inside of each other like flowers, vines and trees in a rain forest. So applying colors via crazy mixed up gradients is quite unusual. It’s like three dimensional parallel process painting using dozens of brushes simultaneously.Like fireworks, the process is controlled, but the fractal devil is always in the details and outcomes are always surprising. That’s what makes it so much fun. Again, very tiny numerical differences can totally change the way an image looks.
This is my sixth Kickstarter project, so many of you are familiar with my work already. Here are links to the previous projects, if you want to read the descriptions or view the images. Links to kickstarter projects:
Wormholehttp://kck.st/Ni4CwV(Scroll down page to view all images)
Warbirdhttp://kck.st/RdpAhE(Scroll down page to view all images)
Darkmanhttp://kck.st/Wx8ag2(Scroll down page to view all images)
Wildfirehttp://kck.st/11HPWLL(Some images on KS page, see Youtube for all images)
The deal here in this project is the same as usual: you pledge to support my excellent adventures in experimental art and you get reward links to download and print (for personal use only) my latest ultra high resolution flame fractals, usually 10800 x 7200 pixels. As before backers can choose pledge levels with prints as rewards, vinyl or canvas, and I have added transparent plastic PETG as a printing option. This makes suitable fractals into faux stained glass, something new under the sun. Take a look.
In the past I have offered all my previous folios as rewards on each new Kickstarter project and I am doing so again here. I expect that most backers will choose the new Faces in Chaos folio, but the options are available to choose any other folio or combinations of folios. The reward categories are set up for any one ($25), any two ($50), any three $75, any four $100, any five $125 or all six folios $150. Which folios make up your subset will be taken when surveyed at project’s end.
And backers can still choose any image from any folio for printing on vinyl, canvas or transparent plastic (PETG). When you choose a Kickstarter pledge level that includes a print, you will first receive SkyDrive download links for all of my high resolution digital fractals so that you can make a good choice, which you will name in the follow up survey. In the past I have delivered prints within six weeks of projects end.
Here below are the highly reduced images from the new Faces In Chaos folio. You are viewing about 1% of the pixels that are in the full sized high resolution images.
Risks and challenges
Generating ultra high resolution fractals involves many technical difficulties and printing large format many more, especially in color fidelity. Since this is my sixth Kickstarter project involving this process, these problems have all been addressed, although I am still perplexed with certain aspects of color management and profiles. Lifelong learning, as we used to say.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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