Mandelbrot speaks

Posted by Kitara Julian On 10:52 AM 0 comments
Yesterday we devoted our post to Fractals as seen from my point of view as an artist. Today we share a quote sent by a friend, from the pioneer mathematician Benoit B. Mandelbrot in his seminal book “The Fractal Geometry of Nature”:
"Clearly, competing with artists is not at all a purpose of this essay. Nevertheless, one must address this issue. The question is not whether the illustrations are neatly drawn and printed, and the originals being drawn by computer is not essential either, except in terms of economics.
But we do deal with a new form of the controversial but ancient theme that all graphical representations of mathematical concepts are a form of art, one that is best when it is simplest, when (to borrow a painter's term) it can be called "minimal art".
It is widely held that minimal art is restricted to limited combinations of standard shapes: lines, circles, spirals, and the like. But such need not be the case.
The fractal used in scientific models are also very simple (because science puts a premium on simplicity). And I agree that many may be viewed as a new form of minimal geometric art...
The fractal "new geometric art" shows surprising kinship to Grand Masters paintings or Beaux Arts Architecture.
An obvious reason is that classical visual arts, like fractals, involve very many scales of length and favor self-similarity.
For all these reasons, and also because it came in through an effort to imitate Nature in order to guess its laws, it may well be that fractal art is readily accepted because it is not truly unfamiliar. . ." (Benoit Mandelbrot)

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Computer Art Born from Nature

Posted by Kitara Julian On 10:11 AM 0 comments
A friend who is very interested in Fractals and creates them wondered about similarity between fractal imagery and abstract art, which gave me the idea to write this post which topic might be of interest,
Mathematician Benoit Mandelbrot
http://www.math.yale.edu/mandelbrot/
was the fractal pioneer, created with Intelligent Electricity, my name for computers or anything electronic. (Back in the late 1960’s, I was offered by a professor of computer science at University of Toronto to have carte blanche, as an artist, with their computer equipment, to experiment with new forms of expression, but declined.) This new art of fractals is now taking its place amongst 21st Century artforms.
When seeing these images in 1999 aboard “Ocean Explorer I” on the world cruise (shown by a passenger from New York who had a disc of them), I was spellbound.
He was a student in our creative exploration art class in the ‘floating studio’ and we’d given an assignment to do abstractions with the primary and secondary colours.
After this he invited us to his cabin where he had his computer.
I had heard earlier about Fractals, and seen still photographs, but this fellow showed the images moving and he could also stop them as “paintings”.
I immediately realized we were dealing here with a new art form, albeit one only possible to create with electricity input or batteries. (Intelligent Electricity)
During the 1960’s in times of Psychedelic art and Flower people, some beings were doing fine drawings, spirals, wheels within wheels, which may give the impression of a similar spiritual-climate as Fractals.
Then there are the intricate early drawings by Escher, which I’d seen originals as a boy in Holland. Although he belongs more to Optical Illusion style and category - - while Fractals are a reality in Nature.
Mandelbrot tried to find a way of expression that followed Natural laws. One only needs to look at ferns, broccoli, kale, trees (with or without leaves), clouds, bronchia (lungs), and coastlines as seen from space.
That he succeeded in finding the ever-never land imagery from such a ‘simple’ formula now has its own language.
On the one hand there are strong similarities with abstract art, while on the other, you recognize ancient symbols already interpreted by the Tibetan monks and thangkha artists, (especially their depictions of clouds). But of course those were and are still done by hand.
It is not that Fractals are a continuum or have that potential within the design, but each frame could be an image by itself, such as we can see for example with Fractal calendars. Visually then, to look at them without movement they give the impression of modern art.
The greatest art is knowing When and Where to stop, not add. Such simplicity gives it strength. Fractals could be called a never-ending variation on the same theme, like the music of J.S. Bach.
Computer art it certainly is, and an art form that is unique and which stands entirely in its own realm. Signing off, Henri

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Wildlife, and flower counting on the Island

Posted by Kitara Julian On 1:41 PM 0 comments
Many of you have no doubt viewed in 2007 the Eagle webcam at Hornby Island, waiting for the Bald Eagles’ eggs to hatch. They never did. However our determined Eagle watcher says the Eagles are back in the nest and he has a gut feeling this year they might succeed at having chicks.
We were privileged to meet the fellow, Doug Carrick, at his home on Hornby (the eagle nest is beside his property), courtesy of a friend, Beverly, who also lives on Hornby Island. Doug also keeps a record of the whales that come by.
He showed us a video of the nest, very high up in the tree.
Now why do we bring up the topic of Bald Eagles? First, they’re not bald! They have lots of white plumage on their heads and necks; whoever named them first, I guess from a distance they looked bald.
We mentioned in an earlier post about those two Baldies turning “Rambo” and who destroyed many nests and chased the herons, making over 100 homeless, Thank You, out of the treetops here at beautiful Beacon Hill Park. So now they have that realm all for themselves. But, hold on! They also refuse to let other Baldies build a nest next to theirs.
This brings us to our local wildlife story. For on the rooftop of our ten-storey apartment building (we’re on the 7th floor), right here on the Pacific coast at Juan de Fuca Strait, we have a happy pair of Bald Eagles which have made this spot their base.
We often watch them going for breakfast at dawn, returning with a good catch. To the consternation of the seagulls and crows. How about that? Having a pair of Baldies right above our heads!
Another happening to tell you about is the annual spring blossom count here in Victoria. With the unusual cold spell we’ve had, there’s a bit of a raincheck (or should I say snow check) on this activity for now. My contribution is complete. This morning I counted 73 crocuses along the way to the grocery store. Those tiny fellows show us they survive the cold and snow. Brave and strong they are, besides being little beauties.
Signing off, Henri

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Put Artists in Charge of the Economy?

Posted by Kitara Julian On 11:36 AM 0 comments
In an earlier post we mentioned artist Emily Carr, now a Canadian icon but who in her lifetime was mocked and ostracized. She was treated ‘less than a dog’. In that post we talked about a proposed bronze statue, life-size. Now it’s almost completed. A site at the Fairmont Empress Hotel (another landmark here in Victoria) has been chosen for her.
We’ll come back to this topic of recognizing artists, when the statue arrives. Let it be known, however, that anyone who wishes to see work by Emily Carr needs to travel across the Strait of Georgia, to the Vancouver Art Gallery.
That’s where most of her works are located. Somewhere maybe there are documents giving instructions that after her passing, she did not want any of her work at the Art Gallery of Victoria?
Long after the critics, administrators and politicians have gone, good and great art survives. And indeed artists often function as ambassadors for the nation of the artist’s birth (more often when they’re dead.).
Now, with the current global economic meltdown (as it is called), we came across this item:
Put Artists in Charge?
“I’d like to make a modest proposal”, writes Liz Lerman. “Put the corporate executives to work as artists while the artists run Wall Street. Some of the advantages:
-Artists work ridiculous hours for no pay. And most of the artists I know will keep working until they get the job done right.
-Artists do not need fancy offices. In fact, they usually work in the worst part of town.
-Artists do not need financial incentives. Artists do the work they do because they love it. Or because they believe in it.
-Artists do not expect to get anything if they do a bad job. Except maybe a bad review.
-Artists keep very tight budgets.”

This is something yours truly knows all about, i.e. tightening the belt, dire economic living and what goes with it, having stood in line during wintertime at soup kitchens of the Salvation Army in Toronto. Also salvaging T-bone steaks and other food items discarded in bins by the owners of homes where I was a part-time gardener (and planter of tulip bulbs). All to sustain my urge to paint. Signing off, Henri

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Believing or Experiencing

Posted by Kitara Julian On 11:13 AM 0 comments
Received an email from someone in New Zealand in response to our recent astronomy posts, to ask if I believed we’ve been on the Moon. Well, I’m not an astronomer. People who believe are at the mercy of the source that tells you to believe something. Believing is a tricky business.
My approach to life is doing, putting things to the test. (Not ‘blind belief’). Experience it yourself.
Everyone has their so-called truth. Believing, on a larger scale, belongs in a way to tradition and its rituals, which use symbols.
If you cannot experience something directly, then the next best thing is to seek someone who has, or a reliable source: Who speaks about What.
For instance, when the late Jacques Cousteau talked about the Oceans, he was a good source on that subject to learn from. Same with astronauts who have been in Space.
Whatever we believe, it will stick. Just look at all the religions, the problems, wars, atrocities and horrors, caused for a couple of thousand years, just by “believing”. Believing What?
And as for us having been on the Moon, here again, we have to “believe” and trust those who say we’ve been there. Is believing faith, truth, trust?
Thirty years ago, in September, I was in Singapore and guest at a garden banquet of a fellow Circumnavigator Club member, a wealthy businessman. It was a celebration of the harvest Full Moon Festival.
The garden was decorated with colourful Chinese lanterns. Halfway through dinner, the Moon suddenly rose on the horizon, so big and near, you felt you could reach out and touch it.
One of the banquet servers, wearing a white uniform, prostrated himself on the grass in honour of the Moon. When he got up, and came to our table, I said, “Isn’t it amazing to realize we humans have walked on the Moon?”
“No, no”, he said, “All Hollywood fantasy and lies. We have not been there, it’s all pretence.”
So what is one going to do or say? For him, the Moon was sacred as evidenced by his prostration on the grass in his white uniform.
See what we mean with believing? It’s a very tricky business. Signing off for now, Henri

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Believing or Experiencing

Posted by Kitara Julian On 11:13 AM 0 comments
Received an email from someone in New Zealand in response to our recent astronomy posts, to ask if I believed we’ve been on the Moon. Well, I’m not an astronomer. People who believe are at the mercy of the source that tells you to believe something. Believing is a tricky business.
My approach to life is doing, putting things to the test. (Not ‘blind belief’). Experience it yourself.
Everyone has their so-called truth. Believing, on a larger scale, belongs in a way to tradition and its rituals, which use symbols.
If you cannot experience something directly, then the next best thing is to seek someone who has, or a reliable source: Who speaks about What.
For instance, when the late Jacques Cousteau talked about the Oceans, he was a good source on that subject to learn from. Same with astronauts who have been in Space.
Whatever we believe, it will stick. Just look at all the religions, the problems, wars, atrocities and horrors, caused for a couple of thousand years, just by “believing”. And it's still going on, today!
Believing 'What'?
And as for us having been on the Moon, here again, we have to “believe” and trust those who say we’ve been there. Is believing faith, truth, trust?
Thirty years ago, in September, I was in Singapore and guest at a garden banquet of a fellow Circumnavigator Club member, a wealthy businessman. It was a celebration of the harvest Full Moon Festival.
The garden was decorated with colourful Chinese lanterns. Halfway through dinner, the Moon suddenly rose on the horizon, so big and near, you felt you could reach out and touch it.
One of the banquet servers, wearing a white uniform, prostrated himself on the grass in honour of the Moon. When he got up, and came to our table, I said, “Isn’t it amazing to realize we humans have walked on the Moon?”
“No, no”, he said, “All Hollywood fantasy and lies. We have not been there, it’s all pretence.”
So what is one going to do or say? For him, the Moon was sacred as evidenced by his prostration on the grass in his white uniform.
See what we mean with believing? It’s a very tricky business. Signing off for now, Henri

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Home Planet

Posted by Kitara Julian On 10:50 AM 0 comments
Having glorified the galaxies and 'cosmic dance',
let us not forget we are involved in this dance too.
So let us also not lose sight of a high priority =
healing and protecting our Home Planet.

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Back to planet "Ocean/Earth"

Posted by Kitara Julian On 11:32 AM 0 comments
For 28 days, the whole month of February, the “human family” could feast their eyes and imagination on a Journey into Outer Space here in Victoria at The Bay Centre, a large mall.
Seven large TV screens, courtesy of SONY Style, displayed images of the cosmic realm and our solar system phenomena, featuring photographs captured by Hubble, the Hawaii Canada France telescope, Mars rover, Voyagers and many others. Also the show featured photographs by amateur astronomers.
It all came under the umbrella of celebrating the 400th anniversary since Galileo Galilei probed the heavens with first use of the telescope.
This year is International Year of Astronomy 2009 with events taking place all over the world. It’s a joint project of the International Astronomical Union and UNESCO. The exhibit was called “From Earth to the Universe”, one of the cornerstone projects of IYA2009.
We have here in Victoria a diligent and devoted group of astronomers based at the National Research Council’s Herzberg Institute of Astrophysics (NRC/HIA) which added to the show an extra vitality. Garry Sedun, who works at the NRC/HIA, produced all the videos to create the show. Natasha succeeded in bringing SONY Style and The Bay Centre on board.
Also we have in Victoria an active chapter of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, whose members volunteered at the exhibit three days a week. And our friend Brian W. Johnson was very helpful too.
Of the seven TV screens, five were devoted to the astronomical images of stunning, dazzling beauty. (Some of these images, for me, echoed Abstract Expressionist paintings of the fifties and sixties, long before space photographs became available to the public.)
One screen featured artwork by Greater Victoria schoolchildren, showing how they depicted ‘outer space’, along with First Nations symbolic impressions of the cosmos. The other screen was entirely devoted to my opus magnum, “Organiverse” series. (See my website vanBentum.org).
Organiverse is a collection of 100 paintings (the originals are small, just 8 ½ cm in diameter), all done in pointillism, dot-by-dot, atom by atom. They were created when we lived in Morocco and Madeira in 1972. Alternating with digital images of Organiverse was the “Starry Night” version of Organiverse. The latter were made possible due to state-of-the-art advances in computer technology.
The public had a chance to forget their daily worries or preoccupations with the mundane by bathing their eyes and minds on the perpetual imagery presented on the monitors.
The Red dwarfs, the supernovas, the birth of stars, glimpse of Jupiter and Mars, nebulae, in short a true journey into the nearest and farthest realms.
Being part of this unique presentation with my “Organiverse” series was a humbling experience.
Talking about humility and feeling small . . on several occasions I mentioned to visitors at the show that it was even more amazing (after seeing the eclectic, cosmic dance) to realize that our home, spaceship Ocean/Earth, speeds through the Milky Way at a mere one million kms per hour, which many received in disbelief, and as a shocking revelation, while a few were in awe and wonder at this reality.
Signing off for now, Henri

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