The interesting thing about fractals (example shown above) is that they illustrate more than just pretty patterns. They, too, employ the same language of form we're discussing, as well as mathematical equations and/or sequences. A new science - the Science of Chaos - is gradually emerging. and fractal theories have been absorbed within that paradigm. But don't be deceived. "Chaos" in this sense, is really the intimations of a higher order, specifically the orders of symmetry, and the fractal nature of the physical world at large. Fractals, in other words, bridge the micro to the macro, and do so by the marriage of mathematics to the language of form. Symmetry, on the other hand, has become the catch-word across the board; in all areas of science, as well as art, music, history and societal analysis. Symmetry, in other words, is a very transdimensional term. It describes both the singular entity and the encompassing field. It can take us from a simple geometric figure to a parallel universe. We can follow it from the atomic to the galactic, from the child's "cat's cradle" to the Super-string universe and beyond.
Artists, of course, generally take both the fractals, the strange geometry, and the form language for granted in their work - for them it is an instinct - and this has been the case since pre-history. Whether it was a lattice or spiral drawn on a cave wall or the crystalline structures tiled onto the walls of the great mosques, artists, intuitively, have generally "been there first" on an unconscious level.
For another intimation of the modern "fractal" for instance, we need only look at some of the illustrations of German naturalist, Ernst Haeckel, (1834-1919). Consciously, he was "drawing from life"... but, observing his work (an example is shown above), I can't help but feel that, once again, on a more unconscious and metaphysical level he was trying to intuitively connect the dots, so to speak, to a larger, more profound picture... the organization of the organism, if you will, its inherent symmetry, and its relation to all phenomenal form.
When it comes to attempting to define a form language, however, it is a mistake to take any form too literally and so superficially that one overlooks the primary source - and/or the larger picture. I'm afraid that those in scientific fields and mathematical fields often have a habit of doing just this. For example, take the Sierpinski "gasket" (my version) shown above. It needs no explanation for the mathematician, but for an artist, myself in particular, the complexity in which it's presented and the way in which it's developed and described is rather daunting and off-putting. In actuality, this triangle describes a portion of a very simple grid, the very same grid from which the Platonic solids emerge. This grid, in turn, is created from a very simple field of inter-penetrating circles, the very same field from which my geometrical figures - the "Platonic" cyclohedra - arose and/or emerged (in 1984). (A graphic of these figures is shown below. Sorry, I no longer have my documentation of these figures online, as there was a decided lack of interest previously shown; in the U.S.A., that is. Interestingly, some of my related diagrams were published in China in 2007, with my permission.)
The point I'm trying to make, using simple geometrical observations, is that the language of form is inherently transdimensional. Both figuratively and demonstratively it is an emergent - and yes, I am referring to the theories of David Bohm - and, as such, describe form as both a singular entity and the component of a field. In other words, there is symmetry, and then again there is field symmetry. There is the stratum of one dimension as the component of higher dimensions, and what we "see" and cannot "see" is relative to our placement in that stratum... a sort of "Flatland" fable.
Fractals, and geometric observations aside, the interesting thing about more transfigurative forms in artwork - Dali and H. R. Giger come to mind - alchemical symbols and drawings, even the illustrative work (like Haeckel's) often have a "dirtiness" about them. This type of "dirtiness", I think, is the type of "dirtiness" Matta refers to when he speaks of "hallucinations" - that is, inspired images which are inseparable from the unconscious repertoire from which they arise. That symbols from unconscious and imaginal origins ultimately obey the same "laws", the same unwritten code that is used to represent the actual, phenomenal world, is our "cause for pause", so to speak. In my opinion, it intimates one way in which we might someday come to understand the Transdimensional quality of the form language, whereby shapes, patterns, fractals, and "diagrams of forces" become the keys to unlock perceptional doors to a more profound concept of space - and its hidden symmetries - that is, as a tissue, a fabric, a synchronistic and living connective.
Fractal form: found here.
Mosque photo: found here.
Ernst Haeckel illustration: found here.
Also: another Fractal link.
"Language of Form" post links: Part I, Part 3