Saturday, October 2, 2010
Fractals have disturbing implications for design.
The mind likes complexity built out of simplicity. I think that's the appeal of most great art. A great symphony breaks down into simple patterns of chord progressions, fugal counterpoint and motifs. There's an "aha" moment. The mind "groks" the pattern, and goes with the flow of the symphony.
The same is true for great visual art, from paintings to cartoons. However orate, there's a basic simplicity, a hierarchy of form, a visual of logic that tells the eye what's important and where to look. The eye likes that.
The mind likes the notion that there's a underlying order behind the complexity of the universe, a few simple equations running it all, a unified field theory, a cosmic operating system. On a micro level, the mind likes the idea that atoms are the "building blocks of the universe." Atoms can be broken down into smaller building blocks which can be broken down into even smaller building blocks. But there are building blocks, damn it. The mind insists.
Fractal logic doesn't work that way. There's no underlying order. The complexity itself is the underlying order. There's just more and more complexity, whether you're zooming out or zooming in. It's organic looking, but in a creepy, Lovecraftian way. Cthulu's house in Malibu probably looks like this.
The mind recoils