Wednesday, September 9, 2009


Last night, quite late, I finally took a few deep breaths and gave myself a quick pep talk, and uploaded my first Ultra Fractal coloring method to the official database. It even has a handy help file or reference guide.

Probably, for someone who's a programmer, writing a coloring algorithm isn't too much of a big deal. But I'm definitely not a programmer, and so this feels like an accomplishment to me. It works, and it does exactly what I want it to do, and it didn't exist until I made it. Somehow that's more satisfying than any of the art I've made in the last five years. (I'm not sure how much that's also to do with the important fact that it wasn't for school.)

I've been messing with versions of this coloring method for years, off and on, and so to a certain extent I've been using it all this time, but when I was working on the help file I realized that I had never really tried making anything that referred specifically back to the Spirograph that had inspired it. So for a couple of days now I've been making pictures that make me feel like I'm a kid with a bunch of plastic gears and multicolored ballpoint pens. It makes me laugh to realize how little my aesthetic approach has changed since I was about seven years old. But at the same time, it all fits in beautifully with the things I was doing at the end of my last year of school: art inspired by games and toys, which had in turn been inspired by math. Tangrams. Sculptures with superballs. Vending machines full of word permutations (which the Professor assures me is a branch of mathematics called "combinatorics").

It is weirdly satisfying to be able to recreate the particular Spirograph that I always used to think of as "the hard one," and not worry about whether the pen was going to slip just as I finished drawing the next-to-last loop.


On the other hand, I really liked my collection of different-colored pens. I wonder if my mom still has my old Spirograph stashed in her attic somewhere.

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