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  • Finding the Meaning: Fine Paisley Like Mandelbrot Edition

    2011 - 01.27

    So I set out to write a post about the first poem I put on the blog and I ended up instead writing a long post about GTA. (coming soon!) Not sure how that happened… wait, actually I know exactly how that happened: I was talking about how I enjoy discussions of what meaning people derive from a work of art because it often give you new insight into why you, yourself enjoy it; and then I got sidetracked by talking about the awesome article/comments on Kotaku, which made me recall why I love GTA. I intended to write about poetry, and instead wrote about video games. Two disparate artistic mediums! And yes, contrary to Mr. Roger Ebert’s now-famous quote that video games can never be art, I do think they can be very artistic. Besides, Roger Ebert talking about video games is about as relevant as Bob Vila critiquing figure skating. Which is to say: Completely. Meaningless.

    But I digress. This is the second first posting in the beginning of my “Finding the Meaning” series which will analyze the deeper layers, the significances of…. whatever topic is in question! This installment: a poem.

    The piece I put up here called “Fine Paisley Like Mandelbrot” is a witches-brew cauldron, bubbling with the things that have been on my mind lately. It’s principle thrust is to simply chew up these influences and spit them back out. The common denominator in the disparate topics we’re about to flesh out is the sheer amount of detail. The richness. A Mandelbrot set, which you can zoom and magnify infinitely, would be an archetypal exemplar of such richness. In this piece I was trying to vocalize my effort (especially with the content on this website) to step up my game, and bring as high of a level of detail as I can to the artforms I practice. There is a thrilling element to such explosions of detail, and I set out to attempt capturing this.

    One of the chief influences on my brain right now (which should be obvious by this blog) has been space. The vastness of it. The crazy, stupefying, ineffable, head-exploding vastness of it. I was sitting at the kitchen table looking at a full two-page spread of a picture of NGC 3370, aka “the Silverado Galaxy” and thinking, “Wow. This galaxy is so big. And to think that most of it’s stars are blurred together here; I can’t even distinguish the vast majority of them because they’re too small or dim. Imagine if you could zoom in on just this one tiny part of that image, what would be there? Hundreds of thousands of stars maybe. Imagine if you could zoom in on a small cluster of them, a local constellation… what planets would they harbor, what minerals, organic compounds, and maybe… what life would be there? This tiny, itty bitty pixel from that image of the whole galaxy is like a miniature universe unto itself. You could spend a thousand lifetimes cataloging and analyzing just the stuff that is there, even if there were no life (which I bet there is). The detail. The detail! And yet–what is this small cluster of stars, compared to this galaxy? One Pixel. And what is this galaxy compared to its supercluster? What is this supercluster compared to The Universe? What are we, compared to that One Pixel?

    I wish I could get in there, squeeze down to pixel size and study what lays in the obscure backwaters of the Silverado galaxy, but that will not be possible for a hundred human lifetimes yet. Maybe (much?) longer. There is so much to see, to know, to explore in the universe. It overwhelms me.

    So in the spirit of such detail, let’s tear this poem apart, piece by piece!:

    sunburst flares
    -one of the sections in the Cosmos: A Field Guide deals with the Sun, and discusses solar flares. Solar flares are an interesting topic because they directly affect our lives on Earth, unlike the distant stars of astrology. Solar flares can cause power outages, magnetic storms, interference with navigational instruments, etc

    magnified, deconvoluted
    -magnified; the infinite zoom-ability of the Mandelbrot
    -deconvolution is the process of taking something and extracting its component ingredients, which are not visible by simple examination of the whole. For example white light is composed of red, blue, and green light. A science textbook will tell us this fact, and we can verify it by watching the refracted patterns on the wall from a suncatcher’s prism in the morning. But to a six year old, who has never seen a suncatcher, and hasn’t progressed to the science book’s chapter on light waves, all of this knowledge would be hidden. White light’s origin a mystery. A less obvious deconvolution would be the ingredients to a recipe. Only the chef knows his secret ingredient in the incredible pasta alfredo.

    upon spectra wavelength
    -the different colors of white light, are the different wavelengths. Red is 700nm. Blue is 460nm. Green is 540nm. (approximate numbers)

    chopped, split, spliced
    -here there is a parallel drawn with audio. When making songs, it is fun to chop samples apart, split them, and recombine into odd patterns. Soon I’ll be doing an album review of “Arboreal” by The Flashbulb, a fine specimen of chopping, splitting, splicing. The genres of Glitch and breakcore use these techniques extensively.

    reconstitued, & noise filtered
    -reconstitute like orange juice from concentrate. Noise filtered like you’d do to a photo you took at high ISO, to sacrifice a bit of sharpness for the sake of a smooth image, to remove the distracting noise (a technical glitch) and focus your viewer upon the artistic aspect of your snappings.

    grasped with warm
    nearly-sweating anxious palms
    of blossoming love’s first

    -If there is a thing such as magic in our world, I would say it revolves around the times in our lives when we are falling in love. When we’re making these tiny, joyful discoveries of who a person is, and finding how our sets of puzzle pieces interlock. Of course there’s an avalanche of this at the beginning of a new relationship, but even when love reaches a sort of plateau, there is perpetual opportunity for surprises and new planes of interaction to be opened up. These sacred instants, when love is increasing, are some of the brightest moments in our existences. Love itself is such a wondrous emotion. Literally, wondrous; filled with wonder. That excitement, the fervor of intertwinement, discovery. Something so fresh and new entering your world.

    divine vector pattern explosions
    vector art is something I wish I knew more about. Skilled artists in this medium tend to use a stunning amount of complexity in their works. This explosion of detail is commonly made by using repeating elements (patterns) which have been varied in their scale, orientation, color, opacity, etc so that looking at the whole, it seems like there is an impossible level of density that must have taken forever to craft, when it is in fact the work of speedy workmanship in the task of applying many minor variances.

    miniscule star filter artifactings
    -the star filter is so awesome. It instantly takes things up a notch. I almost feel like a sucker for falling for its allure so easily, but what can I say, it just works. You could call it an “artifact” in the sense that its presence is caused by areas of oversaturation in a photo.

    revolve non-linear focus-pulls
    -focus pulling simply means moving the focus plane in a video. So something far away gets blurry and something close up that used to be blurred now appears sharp. There is an art to acquiring ‘the touch’ to do it with finesse. Shooting film, there is often one person who is devoted solely to this task, or it can be done precisely with automation.

    densely populated in unpredictable
    -the quest for density! With surprising small discoveries therein.

    differential units
    -in calculus, differentiation is the process of finding a rate of change. A differential is the term “dx” if you’re finding the rate of change of x-position, or “dt” if you’re making calculations in relation to the progression of time. A differential unit would be one single point along the progression of a function, which is infinitesimally small. For every point you can pick around the point t=1, I can give you something halfway between your point and t=1. Infinite sequences can be found inside these tiny spaces…

    along our revolution’s arc
    -a reference to the orbit of the Earth around the Sun, the passing of time.

    the bokeh of horse-hair strings
    -bokeh is blurriness caused by a lens being out of focus, a tool that makes photos look pretty.
    -stringed instruments are often played with bows that are made from the tails of horses.

    with richness of three cent detuning
    -a “cent” is a logarithmic unit of measure for musical intervals. In the western 12 tone system of music there are 100 cents between each pitch. C to C# for example is divided by 100 cents. When creating music, it is pleasing to the human ear to have minor imperfections in the pitch. Two violins that could play perfectly in tune with each other (zero cent variation) would not sound as good as two violins which are maybe five cents off. Our ears are used to these minor imperfections, we crave them. It is the human element which separates flawed beauty from a cold, impersonal preciseness. Believe it or not, perfection sounds bland.

    sprayed in gradients & layered thick
    -gradients can either mean visually: a soft transition from one color to another or mathematically: the gradient of a scalar field (ie a 2D plot of data, like time versus temperature) is a vector field (a map of arrows pointing in the direction of flow, like an illustration of many arrows showing currents in a river) which points in the direction of the greatest rate of change (largest derivative)

    cloned in petri dishes then
    -I was thinking about something a friend said, during a conversation about the recent NASA discovery of an organism that uses arsenic in place of phosphorus for building its DNA chains. He’s going to school for biotech, and he said (paraphrased), “What they did is really nothing special. They forced evolution by feeding these bacteria arsenic over and over. I mean, I force evolution all the time in the lab. You have a bunch of samples and you keep trying for a specific outcome; when you get something that looks promising, you isolate that specimen and forget about the rest, and you keep iterating until you’ve got what you wanted.” That idea he was talking about, that you can create whole new strains or pathways using evolution is an idea that applies to artistic mediums as well. You create a song that’s different from your usual work, and you like it, so you keep forging down that path, with a certain direction in mind, eventually arriving as a different composer than you initially were.

    composite imaged
    -composite imaging is something I do at my job, using different methods of examining something and combining the results. Like overlaying an optical image over an X-ray image, that’s a composite image. Or two photographs which have been blended together, as in HDR, or creative masking to provide an overall better exposure.

    twenty-first generation
    eleventh remix

    -welcome to 2011

    sum totaled obscurities for
    -I love me some obscurities. Hooray for B-sides. A book of minor Beatles trivia sits on my kitchen table, a lesser known masterpiece by Van Gogh hangs on my wall in a giant frame (original shown below), and pixellated backwaters of the Silverado galaxy are what I spend my free time thinking about.

    distillation refinement
    -the process of converting “that was close” into “that was IT”

    over wide timescales
    -it takes a lot of time to assemble a menagerie of gems. A lot of failed attempts and almost-but-not-quites, a lot of practice and persistence to fill a gallery. Having this site, writing this poem, vocalizing these concepts, and painting pictures I know are going to be lame are all part of building toward a whole that will someday outshine the constituent pieces.

    eclectic nostalgia
    eased in and hit with a firm lock
    into multithreaded collusions

    -lines inspired by the song I was listening to at the time I wrote this, “Once Weekly” by The Flashbulb

    99 ways to analyze &
    99 angles to percieve

    -a reference to this poem

    we have moved beyond the saturation knob
    into the thousand-dial selective colour

    -refers to an upcoming photoshop tutorial on the benefits of selective color

    blowing the tones into a billion
    points of nuance sprinkled within
    fine paisley like mandelbrot

    -paisley has always been a favorite pattern of mine. True that it can look hideous when applied in poor taste, but when done right, it is magnificent. The elaborate shapes it forms would take forever to sketch. If I handed you my paisley tie and said “here, draw this tie, exactly” it would take all afternoon, easy. Like vector art, it’s a complex pattern made by copying, pasting, and variating. Shortly after I posted this poem, I redid the navigation bar of the site with a color-shifted image of a paisley tie I have. In the future, I intend to modify it further with extra details.

    WHEW! There you have it!

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