Friday, May 24, 2013

Artifacts from an Ancient-Future... Featuring the Fractals of Tom Beddard (Updated)

Faberge Fractal (from a series) - digital 3D Generative - Tom Beddard, 2012

“I still believe the universe has a beginning in real time, at the big bang. But there’s another kind of time, imaginary time, at right angles to real time, in which the universe has no beginning or end.”

 - Stephen Hawking, from Black Holes and Baby Universes and Other Essays, 1984,
Oxford University Press

"The creative process is akin to an exploration into a space that can dramatically change with a slight tweak of one parameter. A fundamental feature of fractal algorithms is recursion, where the output of one iteration is fed back as the input of the next, so often certain features can get ‘amplified’ leading to unexpected and delightful results."

- Tom Beddard via this 1.4 interview, 2012

"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."

Faberge Fractal (from a series) - digital 3D Generative - Tom Beddard, 2012

It doesn't always work, but, sometimes, when one is looking for a clue to some personal dilemma, or some creative "fix" to jump-start the little grey cells into up-and-running mode, the internet proves to be The Great Provider. It's almost uncanny. At least, that's what I thought when I stumbled upon a post by Cory Doctorow, at the irrepressible, irreplaceable boingboing, the other day.

I'd been mulling over my Ancient-Future meme, having, to some degree, lost my original thread from an idea that originated weeks ago, when, what to my wondering eyes should appear, but actual artifacts, embodiments of just what I'm attempting to illuminate!

The artist: Tom Beddard, an English web-developer currently operating his own company Hyper Digital Ltd. out of Edinburgh, Scotland. The artifacts: a series of 3-D generative renderings he refers to as "Faberge Fractals". It was love at first sight.

Naturally, I wasted no time in visiting Tom's Subblue studio, where I was delighted to find more 3D generatives, and, better still, a whole slew of animations, which he describes as: "rendered using raymarching in the same way as the Mandelbox and Mandelbulb fractals. The formulas follow similar processes of folding, scaling, rotating and inverting the space to give the final shape."

Soon, links to his animations will be embedded on the sidebar of this blog, but, for now, Tom has kindly allowed me to include two of his animated gems... which appear at the end of this post. (Note: I've switched out the 2nd video, and replaced it another - I'm a sucker for soundtracks with my fractals - but, have left a link to the previous.)

In Tom's words, taken from Subblue: "I have a fascination with the aesthetics of detail and complexity that is the result of simple mathematical or algorithmic processes. For me the creative process is writing my own software and scripts to explore the resulting output in an interactive manner. The best outcomes are often the least expected!"

Hmmm... well, from the point of view of a primarily analog digital artist - which is, alas, what I am (out of sheer fear and laziness) - my question would be: but, where exactly does the muse crawl in? Because, you know it must.

Ah, well, I did find this quote from Tom (from this article): "You get an intuition about what equations lead to interesting results," he says. "Everything in 'Surface Area' comes from slowly changing just one parameter. And when it moves in and out of phase with some of the other parameters, certain structures pop out: some organic, some geometric, some classical and tree-like."

My guess: the intuition.

Faberge Fractal (from a series) - digital 3D Generative - Tom Beddard, 2012

Then again, looking at Tom's work, my inuition is that the muses - with Tom at the helm - have fashioned themselves ingenious little abodes... or, perhaps complex mechanisms which accomplish strange things when held in ones hands or above ones proverbial noggin. My suggestion to Tom? In two words: 3D printing!

When it comes to the sheer mechanics which produce fractal patterns, however, I am as much in the dark as anyone else. But, I find, the best way to approach fractal art, geometry, or anything else that smacks of complex mathematics, is to simply allow oneself to respond in much the same way as one might when gazing into the bifurcating whorls of a particularly intricate seashell... the awe, the palpable wonder... because the body can subliminally and inherently grasp what the mind - with all its pre-conceived notions and emotions - cannot. The body understands all geometrical configurations because its ability to function depends upon them; from the division of a cell to the algorithmic arrangement of atoms, the body is a complex, exquisitely fine-tuned geometrical expression in motion. In other words, truly "seeing" is a holistic, whole-body experience.

And, a body loves fractals. They are keys to the Transdimensional, and, hence, keys to the Ancient-Future I've been grappling with.

But, you're going to have to read between the lines on that one. I think I've left enough clues. Meanwhile, forget all of that, and let your aetheric body and/or your pineal body (via your eye-sockets) wander amid the fractal animations below. They will thank you for it.

Welcome to an Ancient Future!

Music Box by Tom Beddard - Soundtrack by J. Saunders

Surface Detail (& soundtrack) by Tom Beddard - Previously shown: Window Well 

For more of Beddard's fractal animations, go here... or, visit his blog, and/or his pages on Twitter, and Flickr.

And, do keep an eye on his sites Subblue, and Fractal Lab; he's promising "some very big new stuff " in the near future!

Thanks, Tom!

Next in the Ancient-Future series: More artifacts!


  1. Syncronicity! I ran across the same posting somewhere else (Clifford Pickover's site I believe) regarding these marvelous renderings.

    I do believe this is what 3-d printing has been developed for.....making the truly digital substantial. Man..what a match made in heaven.

    Thanks for posting this!

  2. Welcome. Thanks for reminding me of Reality Carnival - I haven't been over there as often as I should - great link list!

  3. I especially love the music of Surface Detail!

    1. Thanks for dropping by and identifying yourself, Ursula. I agree, Beddard's soundtrack really works seamlessly with the images.

      I took the liberty of checking out your site - your work is beautiful. I'm posting a link on the sidebar of Trans-D under "Related Digital Artists", if you don't mind.