Title: Evolving self portraits with Mandelbrot math

Authors: Jeffrey Ventrella

Addresses: San Francisco, California, USA

Abstract: This paper describes an experiment in self-portraiture using variations of the Mandelbrot set, and explores the concept of abstraction and realism, and how fractals can be used for figurative art. A digital image of the artist's face is used in a genetic algorithm as a fitness function. Mathematical functions are derived from manipulating the real and imaginary parts of the Mandelbrot set equation, whereby extra variables are added and adjusted using the genetic algorithm. Considerations are given regarding how well the process of iteration in the complex plane can be used for imitative imagery. The limitations are not seen as obstacles, but as an opportunity to explore image-making that lies between abstraction and figurative form. The platonic view of the Mandelbrot set is considered in terms of how this process alters it for visual poetics, at the expense of mathematical rigor. The process-oriented nature of abstract expressionist action painting is compared and contrasted with the mathematical dynamics, along with the gesture-like features that are brought forth through the process of iteration in the complex plane.

Keywords: Mandelbrot set; genetic algorithms; portraiture; image comparison; gestural painting; evolutionary art; self portraits; abstraction; realism; fractals; figurative art; digital images; imitative imagery.

DOI: 10.1504/IJART.2015.069552

International Journal of Arts and Technology, 2015 Vol.8 No.2, pp.115 - 131

Accepted: 23 Oct 2012
Published online: 25 May 2015 *

Full-text access for editors Access for subscribers Purchase this article Comment on this article