Fractal Finds

Summer 2011

This man changed the way I look at everything. Thank you!

Being around children all day is what I do for a living now. Everyday when I am face to face with these kids I see a reflection of myself in some way or another. A universal constant unbarred by laws of space and time that reveals our most innate tendencies. We all seek attention, need help, talk to inanimate objects, realize ‘wait a minute, he might not have the same view as I do.’ We learn that if A is bigger than B, and B is bigger than C, then A is bigger than C. We do this naturally and internationally.

I see my students doodle with crayons, markers and sticks in the mud and it brings me back to a time when I did the same. You see, the first pictures I can remember consciously making an effort to draw (I will admit it is quite difficult to remember one’s art projects from childhood, but I am saying this in all honesty) were with Crayola crayons on paper planes. I remember being very focused not on what the end product would look like but instead on two other factors. The first was how the edges of the color blotches and lines would match up. The second was using every color in the box. That’s all I thought and cared about until I realized I had no more room to fill. Then I would look at what I had done and feel a sense of satisfaction. A sort of, ‘yeah, that’s it’ type of feeling.

I realize now what might have seemed like random placement of colors could have actually been complicated patterns.

As Ken Robinson suggests, we are all born with creativity and get educated out of it. I could not agree more. With this point of view there is no such thing as creativity development, rather in its place is something more like creativity preservation. In other words every kid you know is a reservoir of creativity. Yet our adult-made institutions systematically drain this out of them. And those fortunate adults who have not been sucked dry are often celebrated as artists.

Now, before this entry gets too hard-to-follow allow me to draw a parallel between Ken Robinson’s idea regarding creativity and patters. I think kids not only recognize patterns when they are younger, but they also have a stronger interest for them and thus attempt to explore them. For instance in language acquisition, finding patterns helps babies make sense of their world. In a visual sense I think kids do similar things, yet as we grow up into adults this pattern-seeking tendency receives little nourishment or even worse, abandoned for more ‘real world’ skills.

Thanks to Benoit Mandelbrot my already strong love for visual arts has been amplified to the 10th degree. This Arthur Clarke – Fractals – The Colors of Infinity YouTube video blew my mind wide open and I have been looking at everything with a fractal point-of-view lately. It is like I am back in Portland, Oregon in my college days again, walking the streets of the city finding graffiti everywhere. Even when I am not looking for it, I find more examples of fractals – everywhere. Particularly in plants, which is why I made this entry. Enjoy

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