Week 2/ Finding Logic in the Art/ Tammy Le

Sometimes some art pieces seem so abstract that all the audience precieves is chaos on a canvas and disregards the thought and processes that an artist integrates within the piece, leaving many artists and their masterpieces unappreciated by viewers who cannot understand the logistics needed in creating such art.  When we first looked at Jackson Pollock’s Fractals, I was confused and lost as to its importance and could not recognize how Pollock demonstrates the mastery of his craft.  My perception of his work, however, changed once I learned of the complexity involved in creating his seemingly simple drip paintings.

Although what audiences precieve is merely patterns, shapes, and colors entangled within eachother, they barrier that divides art and math into seperate realms is broken down as geometry plays a key role in Pollock’s fractals.  Fractals are geometric shapes and patterns that can be split into parts, each of which is a different magnification of the whole, a property called self-similarity. Stemming beyond merely fractals using mathematical elements, Pollocks fractals show connections between more than just math and art, and adds a  biological component also.  Some of his artwork can showcase irregular yet patterned shapes in our natural environment such as tree branches, lightening, clouds, and mountains.  In discussing the importance of the correlation between math and art, how both can reflect nature is just as important, and Pollocks fractals showcases how all three can be interconnected and illustrated through a mere painting.

Mathematicians began studying fractals and their elements in the 1860’s and for a century they referrered to such shapes as “pathological monsters” because they could not find a connection between fractals and nature.  It was assumed that the complexity of natural objects, such as coastlines and clouds, was a result of pure disorder, unlike the sytematic pattern repetition that the mathematical view toward fractals presented.  The connection between fractals and nature began to be recognized in the 1960’s and 70’s when Benoit Mandelbrot’s “The Fractal Geometry of Nature” was published, revealing that the complexity of many elements of nature were shown to be the result of fractal repetition.

Here is an example of the connection between fractals and nature that can be related to Pollock’s work:


Pollock’s signature use of fractals allows his work to be easily recognizable and authenticated by physicists and mathematicians.  His mastery of the use of the mathematical element of fractals is difficult to match by imitators.  It is more than random patterns of splattered paint, but in intricate systematic composition.  Fractals have varying degrees of complexity on scales ranging from 0 to 3 where “One-dimensional fractals (such as a segmented line) typically rank between 0.1 and 0.9, two-dimensional fractals (such as a shadow thrown by a cloud) between 1.1 and 1.9, and three-dimensional fractals (such as a mountain) between 2.1 and 2.9.” Understanding the mathematical complexity behind Pollock’s work adds another dimension of imagination and creativity to the piece.  It leaves more audiences in awe of the spectacle before their eyes as they try to understand and uncover the logistics behind pieces such as Pollocks Blue Poles:

The painting becomes more than just aesthetics on a canvas and gives a glimpse into the harmony between art and mathematics that few are able to capture and preserve for the world to see like Jackson Pollock.

Once the mathematical complexity behind his work was recognized, other artists stopped claiming  “splatter boards were better than Pollock’s work” and began to celebrate him as an incredible artist and an icon in the art world.  As Desma 9 progesses throughout the quarter, I feel my view towards art that I did not understand before will continue to change and my appreciation of the skill and imagination it takes to incorporate science and art will contribute to a growing appreciation for art and the world as a whole.

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