Transforms as Art by Kat Larsen PDF Print E-mail
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This leaves me with the question, “How can something come from nothing?” At some point I arrive at, “I don’t know for sure…I can only believe or ponder or doubt.”

Although I started my fine art journey with photography, my goal has always been to discover something beyond what might be called real. Reality seems both illusive and elusive, so my search involved testing borders, to find the abstract inside reality and what seemed concrete in an unusual world. What was real might be altered simply by how I viewed it. What I was after was an amalgam of shape and form and color that would create feelings and excite imagination.

Several years ago I discovered Apophysis, a free, open source fractal flame editor created by Mark Townsend by translating Scott Draves' original C code into Delphi and adding a GUI. I am aware that flames start with triangles - called transforms or xforms - that are then filled with similar forms in stepwise iterations, and that the triangles are based on mathematical formulae. Also, every transform added works on the transform before it. Like most people I started with randomly generated designs. This is a slow process, weeding through what seems like an infinite number of choices, waiting for inspiration, and then individualizing that choice again and again and again.

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These two images came from the same randomly generated flame, using the mutations feature to show varied mutations.  Changing the position and size of the individual transforms (triangles) using the editor feature, and selecting color combinations with the gradient tool, are also ways to change the image. Sometimes, the design is just the starting point and can be combined with a photograph or a scanned painting by opening it in Photoshop or Painter.  The fractal flame may be the prime focus, a background or used to add texture to the new idea. The image accepted for the Urban Legends and County Tales exhibit, title And then there was life (below), began with a newly created blank triangle.  

These are two images I combined. The original swirl reminded me of a black hole/vacuum and I thought of it as possibly the beginning of life. The tree came from a photo taken years ago in Oaxaca.   

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 And then there was life

After taking 4 online classes in Apophysis I now can take more control over what had previously seemed uncontrollable.  I learned I could start with blank triangles, creating my own randomness. As I imagine a world of infinite shapes and both dissimilar and similar forms. It stretches my mind.

What determines the shape of the flame are variations (something like filters only not as predictable), which can be used in combinations or alone on linear or non linear triangles. In mathematics, an equation whose graph is a straight line is called a linear function. Equations whose graphs are not straight lines are called nonlinear. The triangles are identified as shape or detail transforms. Shape is any transform that lends to the general shape of the entire flame; it generally has a higher weight and may have more than one variation attached to it. Detail has a lesser weight and usually has only one variation attached to it although it may have miniscule amounts of other variations. Detail transforms only affect the particular triangle that is part of the total design. In addition, one can choose a final transform which will add a white triangle (the others are colors) to the flame. It will be in the default position with a variation of linear, set to 1 as with all new triangles. Making any changes with the Final Xform will affect the whole flame and not just a part of it. It is automatically a shape transform without having to have a greater weight or multiple variations. This makes it quite powerful.

Sounds like nothing is sure, nothing cast in concrete - that is why this process is so much fun.  Each discrete transform can be and should be moved around, made smaller or bigger and shape-changed - in effect, changing the shape of the fractal.

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The Golden Globe

Let us consider The Golden Globe. To create this image I created two linear and one non linear transforms as well as a bubble variation.This is a good time to mention color because the color here seems to be controlled. The gradient adjustment tool allows for a wide choice of gradients. And, with the apo map it is possible to customize colors along with importing color combinations from other sources, such as Photoshop. I selected a muted pallet, and in each individual transform I adjusted the color for just that section. Thus, The Golden Globe.

The next image uses an Escher variation, three transforms, all non linear, all shape - Escher Variation 1. One of the transforms has a small amount of spherical variation and another, the Escher variation.  Again the final image is a result of moving the triangles around or making them bigger or smaller and of course a careful working of color choices.

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Escher Variation 1

The next image also uses an Escher variation, three transforms, all non linear, all shape - Escher Variation 2. One of the transforms has a small amount of spherical variation and another, the Escher variation.  Again the final image is a result of moving the triangles around or making them bigger or smaller and working of color choices.This piece incorporates five transforms, one linear and four non linear. There are two bubble variations and a small amount of spherical. All three of the above flames use a globe as a focal point but in very different ways.
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Escher Variation 2

The next pair of images illustrate rotational flames. The first consists of two transforms, one linear, one non linear with a swirl variation. One is shape and one detail. The second has two regular transforms and a final. All are non linear, all detail. Each transform had a different variation: julian, rings2, swirl.

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The following set of three images are similar: They fill the entire space with a repetitive pattern. However, their basics are quite different. The one on the right is made of two transforms plus a final, one shape and one detail and four different variations: julian, rings2, swirl and handkerchief. The one on the left, only two transforms both linear, and only two transforms-spherical and bubble. The center image, however, includes seven transforms plus a final, a combination of non linear and linear, and six different variations all on the non linear triangles.The final has an added curl.  Yet, the three are very much alike in detail and use of space.

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I present the last two images without explanation, simply because they make me smile.  I call them Painter’s Pallet and Handstand.  

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 Painter's Pallet
 Handstand
This leaves me with the question, “How can something come from nothing?”

My image in the Urban Myths and Country Tales exhibit - And then there was - was an exploration of this thought. After all, what can we actually label truth rather that myth and what is a real accounting rather than a tale? Doesn’t each telling of the facts change with each re-telling? So what is not a myth; what is not a tale? At some point I arrive at, “I don’t know for sure…I can only believe or ponder or doubt.”

Kat Larsen    

 
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