Confetti #8

Confetti abstract art 55

At this point, any description seems like stating the obvious. Bigger squares, less chopping, 50% of the canvas is left untouched.

I use the same program, a program I wrote, for both the fractal and the algorithmic art displayed here.

You cannot just sit down and write a program to create an image. Well, you could but it would quickly become a chore and much less fun. There is a lot of mundane overhead beyond the art-algorithm itself. The program needs to know how to color pixels on the screen. My program provides a work area with I create and explore with smaller images. Then when something is ready, it creates a larger, anti-aliased image to publish. It categorizes the image, and saves it to disk. It also saves all the formulas I write for later reuse. I can quickly change parameters for a formula and generate a new image without recompiling. When the code/program part of a formula changes, it compiles the new code without leaving the program.

It is like having a studio with paints, brushes, drop cloth, and with a blank canvas set up and waiting. I tried to design my program like that.

Confetti #6

Confetti abstract art 47

Here is another fractal / confetti hybrid. This works better because the fractal part is deemphasized. You probably recognized the dark potion as a tendril in a typical fractal with smaller branches off to the sides.

Although, in this case, while an improvement over the previous, I think it just adds unnecessary complexity. Layering the confetti mixing algorithm over a simple collection of circles, squares and lines works equally as well, if not better.

Confetti #5

Confetti abstract art 50

I tried to mix the confetti algorithm with the fractal algorithm. I am not pleased with the result. But I am posting it anyway if anyone else was wondering what a (failed) mashup might look like.

The main problem is the confetti algorithm and fractal algorithm have equal influence. The image cannot make up its mind what it is. Often that type of ambiguity is desirable, but it does not work here.

Confetti #4

Confetti abstract art 49

Here I am playing some more with varying the amount of confetti mixing across the image. The function that controls the mixing has become more complex.

A few days ago I called this abstract art and algorithmic art, and implied that it is not fractal art. What is the difference? Why do we need definitions? It is what it is. Feel free to appreciate it (or despise it) without defining it. Classifying it does not change it. Still, classification is an interesting exercise, so let’s go there, gently, with that understanding that it does not actually matter.

Fractal art is algorithmic art since it is generated by an algorithm. Fractal art however is limited to a very specific algorithm. For many fractal artists, that algorithm is written by someone else. Even though I write the program(s) for my fractal art, I follow a recipe that is shared by thousands of fellow fractal artists.

Algorithmic art puts no restrictions on the algorithm. Everything is fair game. And generally every image is generated by a different algorithm. The algorithm itself sits on equal footing with all the other artistic stuff. So I like to reserve algorithmic art for the cases where creating the algorithm itself is a key part process.

I am paranoid that someone will vehemently disagree, and that paranoia drives me to deal with the minutia. First, I in no way intend to diminish the work of fractal artists that use someone else’s program. Discovery and selection an interesting fractal region, then framing it and coloring it is the artistic input. That takes a lot of skill and practice and creativity.

I should say something similar for using a computer rather than a brush and acrylics. Maybe I will save that for another day.

Second, there are no clear boundaries. Many fractal artists soon get bored with z^2+c and start experimenting with other, and increasing exotic, formulas. Most fractal software allow users to write formulas, so there is no limit, it crosses over into general algorithmic art.

Some may consider this image a fractal. I don’t but someone else might. Fractals are sometimes defined as having fractional dimension. I doubt that anyone could compute a Hausdorff dimension for today’s image from the underlying formula/algorithm. But by appearance, it certainly seems to fit the definition. Also the process of repeatedly chopping and shuffling pixels seems fractal in nature.

Confetti #3

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In today’s image, different “entropy” levels are assigned to different areas. Recall (yesterday’s post Confetti #2,) the algorithm generates different distorted squares, which are used to shuffle around the colors in the starting image. The algorithm has parameters that control the size of the distortion. Rather than setting these parameters universally for the whole image. Another “set up” function sets them differently for different areas of the image.

Previously I mentioned that making these distorted too small or too large, or too variable or too uniform produced uninteresting results. But there are interesting results when the more extreme parameter values are mixed in the same image.

Confetti #2

confetti abstract art 46

Today’s image has the same basic starting point as yesterday. Here the typical “square” is an actual square. Yesterday they were elongated rectangles.

If you are not a daily reader, the algorithm is described in the previous post Confetti #1. The final algorithm is quite different, and much more complex than where I started.

Sometimes algorithmic art incorporates randomness into the algorithm. Despite what the appearance may suggest, this image and the rest are not random. The algorithm will produce this image, and only this image on every run. And in response to the cynics, no, that consistency is not achieved by setting a seed for a random number generator. For example there is a reference “square”, that gets modified. Width, height, orientation angle are changes. The changes are determined by a function based on the x,y screen coordinates. There is a mix of different distorted squares. The mix has a mean and standard deviation like a random sample in statistics. But it is deterministic, not random.

Confetti #1

Confetti abstract art 45

Today starts a new series called Confetti. I am leaving fractals behind for now. Although I am sure I will return to fractals, I always do.

This is abstract art and algorithmic art. In the world of mathematics and computers definitions are precise. You can look at something and definitely decide if it fits the definition or not. The real world is not so clean, and the above linked Wikipedia articles are trying to classify things that are difficult to classify. I am sure someday I will be compelled to return to these definitions and add my two cents. But, you know, one day at a time. I will avoid that rabbit hole today, and simply assert that this is that type of art.

This image is generated by an algorithm that I wrote. The original idea was to start with a simple minimalist geometric abstraction, in this case white and black with a small splotch of blue and cyan, with smooth color transitions. Then chop the image up into small squares, displace the squares by varying amounts and then repeat until the original was suitably mixed up. When I implemented this algorithm in a straight forward manner, as suggested by the description, I was disappointed in the results. It was not want I expected, and not in a serendipitous way.

It works better to leave the square in place and pull the colors from elsewhere into the square. The squares are not uniform, they have different width, height and orientation. So they are actually tilted rectangles. The simple repeat loop did not work well, the last set of cuts were too obvious and a distraction. The repeat steps needed a kind of memory which informed the size and displacement for the next step.

There is a narrow range of rectangle sizes that works. If too large then it just looks like random rectangles. If too small, then the confetti effect disappears and it looks too much like the original smooth color image. Also, it takes a lot of iterations to get the squares chopped up and messy. This one has 80 iterations, although usually 20 to 50 is enough.

After all these adjustments I came up with something close to my original intent.

Vines #12

Vines Fractal 42

I was going to move on to another topic today. But my obsessive compulsive disorder prevents me from leaving this topic with “yeah, that one could be better if I worked on it more”. So I went back to work on it. Here are two alternate views of the same fractal space, with better foreground / background separation. I muted the background, removed the corners on the vines and added gold / brown to highlight the high spots in the fractal shape.