A type of algorithmic or computer-generated art, fractal art was developed in the 1980s. This art form is based on the calculations of fractal objects that are represented as images. fractal art is created with the use of computer software; it is not art that is rendered by hand. In some cases, non-fractal images are incorporated into the fractal design to create a type of hybrid work. Because they are based on mathematical formulae, fractals are an unusual art form, but one that has been embraced under the umbrella of digital art, and they are not the first instance where artists have relied on mathematics for artistic creation.
Fractals are graphical representations of equations and, like numbers themselves, the possibilities for unique fractal images are infinite. The mathematical equations or formulae used to create fractal art determine how each computer pixel is formed and colored to create the resulting image. By modifying their formulae, artists can create unique art. Each work is typically represented by millions of pixels.
Digital artists have many fractal-generating software programs to choose from to create their art works. When creating fractal art, artists use their program of choice to set parameters for their work, executing their calculation or formula, and assessing their creation. Some artists will continue to modify their art work by loading it into other software programs that allow for further enhancements. The program known as Fractint is the first to be widely used by artists.
Interestingly, fractal art is not the first instance where artists combined art and mathematics. Ancient mosaics, oriental rugs, and cubist art, for example, demonstrate the links between math and art. As complex patterns, fractals can also be found in nature. The most famous work of fractal art is typically regarded as the Mandelbrot Set Fractal, which took nine hours to execute. There are many online galleries that showcase fractal art. Resulting works of fractal art have been used to create prints, screen savers, wallpaper, greeting cards, magnets, T-shirts, and much more.
Some notable artists who have used fractals to create art include William Latham, Vicky Brago-Mitchell, and Carlos Ginzburg. Major museums and art galleries around the world have showcased fractal art in exhibitions and, of course, permanent displays. Fractal art is not only created by artists but by mathematicians and amateurs who are interested in its concepts. Fractal art is regarded as distinct from computerized art that relies on the software to create; fractal art is directed entirely by the artist/mathematician and supported by their calculations and modifications.