Chris McLay.

Interaction designer and user experience consultant.

Pendulum Music & Fractal Images

There is a strong relationship between the question of what makes art, fractal images (see this post) and Steve Reich’s Pendulum Music (see this post).

Both fractal images and Pendulum Music have simple basic straight forward formula’s which define them. Both have a variable element which effects how the “art” is produced: in the case of the music the four performers will start the pendulum in different places each time the piece is played and effect the outcome; in the case of the fractal formulas a seed value for the formula effects the output of the image. Both of these values are often random, but come under some degree of control by the “artists” involved.

I’m still not sure if the outputs of these formulae are actually art, but is certainly interesting and often beautiful and contemplative. To varying degree’s most artists work to a formula or methodology of some kind — it’s the number of variables and the amount of control through a larger range of variables, and the fine control they have over those variables which is different for each artist and/or artwork.

I like the idea of a strict formula or methodology in regard to my own project — it would make working on a long and complex project somewhat simpler, but if the formula or methodology I start out with is wrong then I have no chance of producing anything good… hmmm ???

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