Graphics from the Edge of the Millennium

The following images were created by me (David Thornburg) with the aid of a wonderful program, Artmatic (http://www.uisoftware.com). These images are examples of algorithmic art. Each image is the plot of one or more functions in which the color is mapped to the result of these functions for each point on the x-y plane. I have used algorithms to generate artwork since the early 1980's when I wrote most of my own software. I never dreamed that I would someday have a tool with the incredible flexibility and depth of Artmatic. This program allows me to couple various functions together with complete control of the parameters for each function. I can immediately see the results of my parameter selections and make adjustments until I've achieved the desired effect.

This is a completely different approach from that taken by traditional paint programs in which the computer is used to emulate traditional physical media. When I work in this medium I am reminded of the quote from Frederick Brooks in his book, The Mythical Man Month, in which he said: "The programmer, like the poet, works only slightly removed from pure thought-stuff. He creates castles in the air, from air, creating by exertion of the imagination."

This passage reflects my experiences in creating the graphics highlighted on this page. To see any of the images in more detail, just click on the thumbnail picture. Enjoy. David is also director of the Thornburg Center and he invites you to visit that site for more information on his work and that of his colleagues on the impact of emerging technologies on education.

 

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Three dimensional starbursts seem an appropriate theme to choose for starting off the new century.

 

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A more subdued, yet dynamic, approach was taken here. Broken symmetries add complexity to this otherwise simple image.

 

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I have always been interested in the complex tiling patterns from the Middle East, and chose them as an underlying theme for this softer piece.

 

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Once again, interlocked geometric shapes pull in toward the center and out again simultaneously.

 

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Striking colors and harsher geometries reflect the conflict of collapse to infinity.

 

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Another study in symmetry with color.

 

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I've always liked silk and created this image to capture the texture of a fine brocade.

 

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Diaphanous clouds coalesce into a chaotic storm.

 

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Radiant combs push and pull at the center.

 

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An extravagance that pushes toward confusion.

 

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Sensual folds implying intimate contact.

 

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Imagine a field made of nothing but crop circles!

 

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Painting with light on the darkest of backgrounds.

 

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As a child I enjoyed looking at diatoms through a microscope. They were never as colorful as these!

 

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Diatoms from the 1960's!

 

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This image captures ideas from the end of the century. As a professional speaker exploring the impact of emerging technologies on learning, I constantly rebuild my presentations. A few lingering thoughts, like these dying embers, provide continuity from the past to the future.

 

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Bold passions excite the coming era.

 

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Explosive chaos provides the comfort of order.

 

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This is another sensual piece with feathery structures hiding raw complexity.

 

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This fluid image combines the sense of oil spilled on the surface of water along with some of the feathery structures I've used elsewhere.

 

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A simple abstraction and study of symmetry.

 

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Tension at the center holds conflicting forces in balance -- until the filament snaps.

 

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Another sensual fold.

 

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My work in the 1980's was almost exclusively devoted to fractal images. It seemed appropriate to revisit this theme with a new tool.

 

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Intertwined hearts say it all.

 

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Years ago I spent a tremendlous amount of time studying tiling patterns and symmetry. This theme continues to influence my work today.

 

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Another example of recursive tiles.

 

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Having flown over an active volcano and looked into the river of flowing lava, I was impressed with the sheer power of nature.

 

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Softness and edginess meet in the American Southwest.

 

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A celebration of the world-wide web (also a background image used in some of my presentations).

 

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I had the pleasure of talking with Peter Max a few years ago. I have always enjoyed his energetic use of color, so this piece is a tribute to him.

 

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The complex mathematics of simple shells has always amazed me.

 

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Rivers of color and darkness combine at the center.

 

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Wrapping tiles on a sphere is a lot easier with computer images than with physical elements!

 

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This almost-symmetric study provides another expression of simplicity and complexity in balance.

 

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As a child I would swirl ink in a glass of water and stare at the patterns until they disappeared.

 

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A truly symmetric piece -- a calming image.

 

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How better to end this collection than with a radial set of water waves. Seneca said we never step twice into the same river. So it is with the changes in our lives at the edge of the millennium.

This page created on a Macintosh using PhotoPage by John A. Vink.

These images are posted for your enjoyment. You may download images to look at off line, but these are copyrighted by the artist and can not be used or displayed in any non-personal setting without permission. Signed high resolution color images printed on special media are available (both framed and unframed) from the artist. Contact David Thornburg at dthornburg@aol.com for details.