Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Time-and-motion studies

...Or I could get completely sucked into Apophysis (and also distracted by side projects in mold-making), and not post anything for weeks on end. Bah, phooey.

Apophysis really is nicer to use than the last time I tried it. I've been using the 2.08 3-D Hack version, and it's now to a point where I feel like I'm starting to have some control over the image, and can start thinking about things like composition and framing and color placement, instead of just blindly pushing triangles around, hoping something good will happen.

The nature of flame fractals is such that once you've made a good image, the obvious thing to do is make many small adjustments, to generate more good images. It often doesn't take much adjustment of a transform-triangle to change the image quite a lot. So you can quickly end up with a whole series of related things. Changing the color palette also has a surprisingly large effect, and pretty soon the whole evening has gone by and the hard drive has filled up with a ridiculous number of pictures.

This has got me thinking about the question of How long does art take? For some reason, this is one of the most frequent queries about a given work of art: "How long did that take?" The possible answers are as infinitely variable as fractals themselves.

  "About fifteen minutes."
  "About fifteen minutes, plus an hour of render time."
  "A week of preliminary sketches, plus fifteen minutes and an hour of render time."
  "A couple of years learning to use the program, a week of preliminary sketches, fifteen minutes, and an hour of render time."
  "A decade of studying fractal mathematics, a couple of years to learn the program, a week of sketches, fifteen minutes, and an hour of render time."

...And a partridge in a pear tree.

To which the response is often something like "What the hell? Fifteen minutes? And you think this thrown-together crap is worth something? You're an idiot. And a fraud."

And I don't know. Sometimes I feel like a fraud. But then I think about photography, in which the actual image-capturing part takes a fraction of a second. Or those beautiful Japanese paintings done in ink on silk, that happen so quickly and fluidly, and are breathtaking.

Flame fractals make really lovely elegant curves. I find many of them aesthetically pleasing. And I'm even starting to have enough control over what I'm doing that I think it counts as intentional. But somehow, it still seems too easy and quick. Is it art? I have absolutely no idea.

Ink in Water
by mrvelocipede on deviantART


Anonymous said...

There's also the week of render time plus a day and a half of fiddling with color profiles required to print them big.

Which would be very cool, by the way. Fractal images ought to be printed big.

Sam said...

There is this famous story about Picasso.

I've been developing the algorithms I use during years. But the creation of any given image rarely exceeds half an hour, nothing good comes out after this time. Failed attempts might be reworked, but if sucessful, the result is so different that I might have as well started from scratch.

Maybe what matters is that each image brings something new.

Algorithmic worlds

Mr. Velocipede said...

Yes, it definitely seems like fractals have a point beyond which they just become overworked, and don't get any better. Although in Ultra Fractal, I often revisit an image many times over the course of days or weeks, and it gradually evolves into something that feels finished. At the same time, it often branches out into several related images, that may or may not remain visually similar to the original.

This leads me to other questions, along the lines of "How different does a fractal have to get to count as a new image?" Adding, subtracting, changing layers? Changing the color scheme? Changing the base formula or location? I will have to think about this some more.

Mr. Velocipede said...

Also, @Olaf, prints are soon-to-be in the works. I'll let you know.

Karla Z. said...

Wow, how did I miss this one? I quite enjoy it!

Mr. Velocipede said...

Thank you! I'm glad you like it.

I just tried printing a medium-sized render of this one, and it looked pretty great. Then I foolishly gave the print away. I will have to make another.