Beauty of math revealed

by Sooke News Mirror

They often bear an uncanny resemblance to creatures and objects from the natural world. But these flowers, ferns, butterflies, feathers, snails, and seashells are found not in forest or meadow, but cascading across Pam Blackstone’s computer screen. Blackstone uses computer software to create colourful and intricate fractals, a digital art form that blurs the boundary between art and science.

Mystical, playful, seductive—sometimes psychedelic—fractal art explores themes of chaos, repetition, and infinity. Generated from mathematical formulas, fractals often feature loops, arcs, spirals, and other shapes, revealing more and more detail through each level of magnification. Alternately bold and vibrant, delicate and wispy, fractal art always provokes wonder and fascination.

Some people question, however, whether images created with a computer instead of a paintbrush should be considered art.

“There is some controversy,” admits Blackstone. “There tends to still be prejudice against any work of art created with electronic tools. Digital art is struggling for recognition and credibility the way photography did a century ago. The fact is, though, that without the skill and aesthetic input of the artist, all you would get from the fractal software is a set of random chicken scratches or the standard Mandelbrot Buddha shape against a plain background.”

From September 8 to 22, residents of the Capital Region will have an opportunity to decide for themselves. Blackstone will be showing her work at Sooke’s South Shore Gallery, in an exhibition titled Fractals: the Hidden Beauty in Mathematics. The event represents a notable departure for the little gallery at 2046 Otter Point Road that, to date, has tended to focus on more conventional art forms.

Blackstone, who moved to Sooke several years ago, is a professional writer and former Times-Colonist columnist. She sells her fractal art in open and limited edition prints and makes greeting cards featuring her designs. Her fractals are popular online, where they have been sourced for projects ranging from book covers, brochures, and business cards to web design templates and iPod skins.

This October, she will be teaching others how to create these interesting and unusual images, with an evening course on fractal art at Sooke’s Edward Milne Community School. To register, or for more information about the course, call (250) 642-6371.

For more information about the show, call (250) 642-2058. For more on fractal art, see or contact Pam Blackstone at (250) 642-0868.

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