12 September 2008

Do Fractals Talk To You?

Art has been used over the centuries for any number of purposes, including political and social commentary. Fractal art, digital art, algorithmic art, or whatever label you want to put on it is just as valid an art form as photography, painting (oil, water color, acryllic, etc.), stained glass, cartoons, sculptures, and so on and so on.

But, can fractals speak?

I've seen fractals used to depict emotions. I've seen fractals used to depict seasons. I've seen fractals used to depict hot and cold. I've seen fractals used to depict song titles. I'm sure there are many more example of fractals depicting concepts such as these and more.

But, do fractals speak?

Traditional art forms clearly do. Sometimes intentionally, sometimes not. Not every image, of course. But, I'm sure everyone can find images that convey a meaning or message. Often times the same image depicts different things to different people. Many times, art is just something nice to look at. Sometimes, art is disturbing. Sometimes, art is intentionally created to convey a message. Sometimes, it is accidental.

Do fractals do the same thing?

Perhaps. But, I contend that it is very hard to make fractals speak when you are wanting to make a social or political statement. In fact, I think it is so hard that it is virtually impossible. I've never seen a fractal image that successfully makes a social or political statement. That doesn't mean it is impossible, just that it is very difficult. That doesn't mean there aren't examples, just that I've not seen any.

Now wait, you say. I've seen fractals used to make social and political statements. Perhaps you have, and if so, please share a link to the image. However, what you have probably seen is a fractal used with a particular title and/or commentary to make a social or political statement. That is not the same thing. If the image actually made such a statement, words would not be necessary. In these cases, it is the words that make the statement, not the image. The words by themselves would make the same statement.

Fractals are essentially a form of abstract art. It is hard to make abstract art say anything specific. Not impossible, just difficult. I doubt most people even try. Quite often, the titles artists give their images are nonsensical. Or, they remind the artist of something that they thought of while creating the image. The viewer often can't even understand how the title relates to the image. This isn't true in every case by any means, but I think it is true in most or a very large number of cases.

Can fractals speak? Yes, I think they do. At least as much as abstract art speaks.

I think when artists try to force a message with their art, it often fails miserably. This has been the case with the examples I've seen of fractal art used to try to make a social or political statement, primarily because it is the title that does the talking.

I don't think it is necessary for fractals, or art in general, to convey a message. Art can simply be something that is nice to look at.

If fractals have been talking to you, I'd like to see the image(s) doing the talking. Especially, if they are making any social or political comments.