Monday, July 29, 2013

combining algorithmic generation with human selectivity

The "Mandelbox" is a fractal, analogous to the Mandelbrot set but with a slightly different defining function. All of the detail in the Mandelbox exists (in the Platonic sense) without human intervention. In that sense it is a found, natural object, like a seashell.
On the other hand, we have some freedom in our renderings. There are a few free parameters the artist can set, or any parameter could be replaced by some more complex function. At some point it stops being what would typically be referred to as a Mandelbox, but that point is fuzzy and socially defined.
We can choose the angle and scale to capture it at. We can choose the palette or color map. We can choose to use different shading algorithms. Some of these choices will result in an image that we find more pleasing than others. These images get saved. Some of our favorites of those are posted online. The images which are most often clicked on because of an intriguing thumbnail or popular contextual information move upwards through the rankings on Google images. The result is a combination of a generative process and human selectivity, making an enjoyable slideshow:

human-selected computer-generated Mandelbox views

Athanasius Kircher

The flying turtles of Henan from China Illustrata.

One of the sources I used about Kircher is now available online. Beyond his ideas about organizing knowledge and automating art, his books are just a kick to look through. They're almost like illustrations for encyclopedia articles, but then you see a dragon, or a ladder to the center of the earth, or a mountain in the shape of a man.

Athanasius Kircher: A Rennaissance Man and the Quest for Lost Knowledge

This section of the Wikipedia article on him contains links to several of his manuscripts.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Kaleidoscopic timelapse

This seems like it could be the opening credits to some Ghost in the Shell sequel.
(By Michael Shainblum.)