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Author Topic: Just WHY are fractals beautiful?  (Read 11411 times)
Description: I might be onto something, what do you guys think?
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FractalNerd
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« on: August 08, 2011, 11:20:12 AM »

I think there is strong evidence linking our sense of visual beauty to “survival of the fittest”.
For example, why, in an ultimate sense, is Angelina Jolie considered beautiful? I believe that the consensus among psychologists is that we enjoy her looks because of signs of youth and maturity, symmetry etc. In other words, “hanging out” with her is a good strategy for getting genetically fit children, hence we find her appealing.

The same goes to beauty of water. Why are there fountains in our cities, why is the price of a house multiplied when there is a view to some body of water? Why are there rivers and seas in almost every national romantic painting? Obviously, one of the most important criteria for habitat of early humans should be proximity to drinkable, life-supporting water.

There are plenty of other examples. Why do we love a good view from the kitchen window? Is it to easily look out for enemies, prey and predators?

Obviously there is some cultural influence; otherwise architects from the 1970’s could never have done so much to destroy cities with fashionable, modern architecture. However, medieval architects did recognize the importance and beauty of fractals. Just look at any gothic cathedral. 

So, just why do we find fractals beautiful? One theory is that fractals are the essence of plant geometry, and we are attracted to plants as they are vital for life.
Another theory is that we find landscapes that are easily “read” by the brain appealing, as we are more likely to understand our surroundings, spot predators etc. in an easily understandable landscape. Neither of these theories are necessarily close to the answer. However, it cannot possibly be that hard to figure out. We sent guys to the moon.

Anyone’s meaningful though or links on this subject is very much appreciated. I want to do my dissertation for my masters in Architecture on this subject.
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Sockratease
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« Reply #1 on: August 08, 2011, 12:10:16 PM »

As the old saying goes - "Beauty is in the eye of the beholder"

I know people who hate fractal art.

We find it beautiful because we like it - others not so much.

In a Philosophy Class we were once given an essay question - and told to answer the question "WHY?"

I wrote "Why Not?" and handed it in.

Others wrote long paragraphs of nonsense.

Everyone who wrote anything got a "C" - I got the only "B" in the class.

I objected, and insisted I deserved an "A" - but the Professor said I used too many words.

The Correct Answer was ...  "Because."

And that's why Fractal we find Fractals beautiful.

Because.
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FractalNerd
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« Reply #2 on: August 08, 2011, 01:12:57 PM »

If "because" could be considered a response to the question of "why", then it certainly is not a useful one. You can not make any predictions based on "because".

Beauty is not entirely in the eye of the beholder. If you ask a million people what is most visually pleasing: Liv Tyler or the architect Le Corbusier? A Gothic cathedral or some warehouse? I feel very confident that at least 85% would give the same response. If you ask another million people the same questions, you would get similar responses. For a designer, some general understanding of what most people find beautiful is extremely important and basic.

Fractals are amazing, among other reasons because they can be randomly generated, yet be beautiful. Get some random noise, iterate it and give it a good color scheme, and you get something that most people would find very visually appealing. It is certainly more likely to be beautiful than random noise without the iterations. The fact that something would generally considered beautiful by most people could be generated using a program like apohysis is pretty amazing. Just designing something beautiful from scratch is very hard, and programming a computer to do it even more so.

And yes, most people do consider many fractals to be very appealing. Some of them are indeed terribly ugly, often due to the color schemes. The questions is why fractals are so likely to to be aesthetically superior to visual noise/clutter. It might  be more of a scientific question than a philosophical one, especially if the latter ends up as "because".



« Last Edit: August 08, 2011, 01:18:52 PM by FractalNerd » Logged
Sockratease
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« Reply #3 on: August 08, 2011, 01:25:45 PM »

My point was that such things are beyond explanation.

We like what we like and dislike what we like and dislike in ways, and for reasons, that will forever escape Scientific Explanation.

I personally find "The Rule Of Thirds" in artistic composition to be unaesthetic.  But people swear by it, and claim it as a "Rule" for nice art.  

You may find something like the answer you seek here, or you may not.

You may find broad generalities that imply things - but it's just an illusion.

Or so I believe.



« Last Edit: August 08, 2011, 01:57:37 PM by Sockratease, Reason: Speelinf Eroorz » Logged

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FractalNerd
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« Reply #4 on: August 08, 2011, 01:41:23 PM »

I disagree with your view, but find it interesting. Just why do you find attempts at understanding the logic behind aesthetic futile? Is it that everyone has such different tastes that there is no way of making any sense of it anyway? If so, do you disagree that a Gothic cathedral look much better than a hangar? Do you think most people would agree?

Why Angelina Jolie is beautiful is easily explained (and predicted) by psychologists, and pretty uncontroversial. She fits all the traits perfectly - big lips, eyes, forehead, smoth skin, curves etc etc. If there is no similar logic to architecture, then how did medieval architects manage to time after time make breathtaking and stunning pieces like Canterbury, Metz or Strasbourg Cathedral? And if they had dismissed any attempts to make sense of our aesthetic preferences, would they still have been capable of making these beautiful buildings?


Anyone else had any thoughts on whether, and if so, why fractals are especially beautiful?
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Sockratease
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« Reply #5 on: August 08, 2011, 01:56:22 PM »

I disagree with your view, but find it interesting. Just why do you find attempts at understanding the logic behind aesthetic futile? Is it that everyone has such different tastes that there is no way of making any sense of it anyway? If so, do you disagree that a Gothic cathedral look much better than a hangar? Do you think most people would agree?

My tastes don't really enter into it.  It's not that everyone has such different tastes that there is no way of making any sense of it anyway, so much as I view Aesthetics as the Polar Opposite of Logic.  One cannot really be defined in terms of the other  (except in very rare and extreme cases).

Why Angelina Jolie is beautiful is easily explained (and predicted) by psychologists, and pretty uncontroversial. She fits all the traits perfectly - big lips, eyes, forehead, smoth skin, curves etc etc.

And I know people who think she's a toothpick with anemia!  Some who don't think a woman is Beautiful unless she is Very Full Figured.

I refuse to comment on whether I find any woman except my Fiancee attractive!  (I'll get in Trouble if She sees it!)

If there is no similar logic to architecture, then how did medieval architects manage to time after time make breathtaking and stunning pieces like Canterbury, Metz or Strasbourg Cathedral? And if they had dismissed any attempts to make sense of our aesthetic preferences, would they still have been capable of making these beautiful buildings?

There is similar logic in every field, it's called Marketing.  Find something that appeals to a majority of people, hone in on it, and exploit it.

But that's just trying to find the broadest market base - nothing to do with abstractions like "What is Beauty?"  or "What makes something Beautiful?"

Anyone else had any thoughts on whether, and if so, why fractals are especially beautiful?

I *am* allowed to say that I find fractals to be Beautiful.  I even use pictures of my Fiancee as texture maps, and place them in orbit traps for fun.

I just don't think dwelling on why is meaningful.

There are terms like "The Golden Mean" and Symmetry and Symbolism which get thrown around when discussing the aesthetics of architecture (and other things) - but as an Old Hippy and a Scientist - I prefer to keep my Mystical Outlook on certain things. 
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« Reply #6 on: August 08, 2011, 02:03:32 PM »

angelina jolie has a huge ass ... and i consider women as beautiful if they have a "common sense" meaning at most, that me is accepted "as is", most people of the upper crowd look so well because they pay for it, their fotos get reworked, their personal trainers help them, and the most expenses for cosmetic products do their work, and last but not least they have the money to make them look good in the clothes they wear ... angelina isnt ugly, but certainly not the 1st in my eyes cheesy

so, and why do look fractals nice ?

i can answer it really simple, it is for me just that most pictures are so immense detailed that you can watch at each part of it and start thinking about how and why it is working to create such objects, for me it is like watching a fire or a seashore, where nothing really happens but you can always stare at it without getting bored, and this effect is what i get when watching fractal images, they let me enjoy the complexity of simple things, you can tinker about how you would build a bridge with this technique, and some show nice properties e.g. seamless tileable images that are constantly checked by me if the tiling really works, so for me a beatuiful image is one that makes me looking at it, and thinking about it, colors and set up in general is secondary in my point ....
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« Reply #7 on: August 08, 2011, 02:31:13 PM »

I disagree with your view, but find it interesting. Just why do you find attempts at understanding the logic behind aesthetic futile?

i can understand nerd's point of view, because i studied architecture as well. in this discipline things like "parametric design" are big themes within the study. but it's a false conclusion, to reduce a design process to definable parameters. imho it is only a very little part, mostly connected with functional aspects.

a thesis to the primal question. fractals are not automatically beautiful. if they were, we don't need/have fractal artists. many parts of fractals are amorphous dust or simly ugly.
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« Reply #8 on: August 08, 2011, 02:46:42 PM »

Because it taunt the imagination  grin
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cbuchner1
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« Reply #9 on: August 08, 2011, 05:29:02 PM »

Let me just repeat that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. When I showed a realtime rendered 3D Mandelbulb (power 2 to 8 versions) to some colleagues, some seemed to be a bit appaled by the organic and alien-like shape of it.

Does this thing below ask for a hug or does it say "take me to your leader?". Okay, maybe some pink, plushy coloring would have helped a bit.



Christian
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« Reply #10 on: November 13, 2011, 01:38:51 PM »

I had read the article, that main enemie of ancestors of humans (monkeys) was snakes, and easyest way to recognise hidding snakes was by their repeating colour patern.

Could be something in our genes.
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« Reply #11 on: November 23, 2011, 09:12:36 PM »

Quote
The scientist in me appreciates the beauty in the simplicity of the function that generates this fractal.

The artist in me appreciates its aesthetics and eerily realistic imagery.

The spritualist in me wants to believe that somewhere out there in the complex number field, at some level of zoom, a fractal will one day reveal to us the meaning of life.

..but mostly I just like how damn cool they look.
JorjEade 1 month ago 3 
This could be the right answer.
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huminado
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« Reply #12 on: November 27, 2011, 07:43:42 PM »

Fractals are beautiful because they are on the edge of capability.  [And maybe the word "beautiful" is misleading - maybe a better word is "appealing" or "inspiring".]

For example, when Benoit Mandelbrot first printed out the Mandelbrot set, it was black and white, and by today's standards, not very appealing.  But this was a new exploration.

Today, I'm constantly concerned with "doing it right" - making sure I'm not cutting corners and noticing details and addressing them.  I'm not always successful.  But when I recognize "this was done correctly" in any work, that sense of reaching the edge of my capacity to do - that is what keeps driving the process forward.
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JVillella
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« Reply #13 on: January 24, 2012, 03:28:19 AM »

Why is anything beautiful for that matter? I believe it has to do with human design, our make-up and possibly genetics. For example, humans, as a general rule of thumb have starkly different likings than other animals. Its part of our genetic make-up. However, we mustn't look away at the fact of personal preferences. Throughout our life we develop interests and likings, possibly through influential experiences, events, childhood, how we were raised, and other experiences. It's this that I believe makes people have different interests for the details in life. That is, food preferences, tastes, colour, hobbies, etc. The more general likings like the species we choose to procreate with, etc. are engineered into humans. That isn't going to change through experiences.

That's my take smiley
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« Reply #14 on: February 17, 2013, 07:34:20 AM »

Questions of aesthetics have always fascinated me.  It's probably my favorite branch of philosophy.

Fractals tend to exhibit both symmetry and self-similarity, while also maintaining their uniqueness.  Studies have shown that while naturally symmetrical people are considered more beautiful than asymmetrical people, if you simply mirror someone's face to make them perfectly symmetrical, the result is unnerving.  Though we like symmetry, we also like a slight amount of imperfection.

Fractals also have this slight degree of imperfection, being self-similar without being self-same.  Nature shows this with her own fractals.  Mountains, plants, bolts of lightning all exhibit these properties, and thus fascinate us.  Though each branch of a plant my look like the whole tree, each is also unique.  We want things to be different, but not TOO different.

 
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