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Snowflakes, Fibonacci & African Design

“Beautiful, damn hard, increasingly useful. That’s fractals.” – Benoit Mandelbrot

In the previous post we talked about how we’re influenced by the supernormal stimuli that surrounds us. I tried to balance it out by showing pictures of how we can use nature’s influence to create things that are imperfect yet beautiful.

Later that night I participated in a writing exercise (check out cowrite.net for more) and Malie (creator of cowrite.net) asked me if we could try out something called the “Snowflake Method”. This intrigued me and he explained it and I got on google to find out more (here’s the link I read).

The principal in short is that you begin with a single sentence that sums up the plot. Then you develop it further by expanding on that first sentence. After that you expand the scenes, characters, details and so forth. This is similar to how fractals work. It’s how snowflakes are built, the same pattern recurs in smaller and smaller versions to make up the whole. Hence the name “Snowflake Method”.

Koch Flake

Want some milk with your Koch flake’s? For more check out Helge von Koch!

This got me really excited since i’d just an hour earlier touched on Fibonacci numbers and fractals.

I had a meeting that got canceled so I was chatting about how irrational the stock market was that day with a CEO. After a day of intense fluctuation he saw a strange thing that he said never occurs. Both his regular stocks and his “bull” stocks (they use a leverage of 3) were 28.32 percent down. Ah, beautiful symmetry. This reminded me again about fractals so I checked out Benoit Mandelbrot who has written books on the subject and decided: “Yeah, I really have to say something about this since it connects with, well, EVERYTHING!”.

Misbehavior of Markets - Benoit Mandelbrot

To quote Austin Powers: “Oh, behave!”

How does this apply to creativity, business, art, music or marketing? Well, we can use the principles of fractals to craft better art, in our business models, in our architecture, create better movies and music, maybe even have it in our advertising? I trust that people do this more or less consciously because it makes things pretty and natural. We like natural things. We also like pretty things, naturally. But by adapting the principals consciously we can incorporate it with our intuitive work.

One thing we should note of is that nature is in essence lazy. It’s found a way through iteration to work as efficiently as possible with minimal complexity. It uses principals like fractals and Fibonacci numbers to create itself. Why? Because it’s easy. Easy and beautiful. It’s complex when we think about it but it’s also elegant in its simplicity. Like the quote attributed to Leonardo da Vinci says: “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication”.

Giant's Causeway

Want proof that nature is lazy? Visit Giant’s Causeway in Northern Ireland. Mostly built on hexagons!

I’ll leave you with some quotes and check out the videos below them to learn more about fractals, Fibonacci numbers and how you could use the principles in your work!

Quotes by Benoit Mandelbrot

There is a saying that every nice piece of work needs the right person in the right place at the right time.

Think of color, pitch, loudness, heaviness, and hotness. Each is the topic of a branch of physics.

For much of my life there was no place where the things I wanted to investigate were of interest to anyone.

Order doesn’t come by itself.

Now that I near 80, I realize with wistful pleasure that on many occasions I was 10, 20, 40, even 50 years ahead of my time.

Quotes by Ron Eglash

While fractal geometry is often used in high-tech science, its patterns are surprisingly common in traditional African designs.

Mathematicians didn’t invent infinity until 1877. So they thought it was impossible that Africans could be using fractal geometry.

Arthur Benjamin – The Magic of Fibonacci Numbers

Benoit Mandelbrot – Fractals and the Art of Roughness

Ron Eglash – Fractals at the Heart of African Designs

 

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