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The Beauty of Chaos – Fractal Geometry and the Science behind Jackson Pollock

Nature is incredible- it’s patterns and structures are the building blocks for the earth around us and inspire intelligent human design. The influence of nature can be seen in design everywhere, however discreetly or intentionally, and it works because it has evolved, it’s adaptable, it’s clever and it’s beautiful.

Naturally we have an eye for structure, rhythm, and pattern as it’s predictability comforts and reassures us. However sometimes structure isn’t immediately obvious- take tree branches for example- at first look growth appears haphazard and sporadic, yet this apparent randomness is repeated at different magnifications within the tree’s trunk, branches, shoots, and even the skeletons of its leaves. Chaos Theory, and its offspring fractal geometry is a branch of mathematics which provides evidence that this growth isn’t random, but is in fact controlled by a repeated geometric pattern  in a set of very specific conditions. This geometric repetition, which links to the Fibonacci sequence, creates a design in which patterns are repeated at various levels of magnification, and this can be seen in all kinds of nature’s formations – tree branches, blood vessels, flower petals and evencabbages! It’s not the sexiest of videos but stick with this one; it provides an easily digestible insight into a very complex topic!

Since he first splattered them out, Jackson Pollock’s ‘Drip Paintings’ have been a common face in the “But is it really art?” debate, many people questing his technical ability and criticising the work as childish, messy and pointless. But after careful analysis, physicist Richard Taylor has proved that Pollock’s controversial works are in fact made up of a fractal design, containing a repeated structure of patterns which have been formed by Pollock’s natural swinging motion that he performed whilst dripping paint. His continued research lead Taylor to create a ‘Pollockizer”- an instrument designed to mirror Pollock’s working swing and essentially replicate his paintings.

The precision, beauty, and functionality of fractal geometry provide perfect inspiration for modern design. In his TED talk, Designer Ross Lovegrove’stalks about how his work is inspired by  forms within nature to create organic design which is as functional as it is beautiful.

It seems that whether we realise it or not, the fractal geometry surrounds us in it’s natural state, in inspired human design, and also in accidental artistic expression caused by our inbuilt natural rhythm. So keep an eye out for it, it might just inspire something incredible.

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