March 9, 2010
fractal finsterlin
Higher Order 3D Mandelbulb Set – C++, Paul Nylander, 2009 (source)


The least democratic of geometries is the line. As the shortest distance between two points, the line sacrifices choice for efficiency. The only moments of importance for the line are the points of departure and arrival, of which there are only ever one of each. The bulk of the line, that is the in-between (the veritable line itself), is nothing but fluff, filler, excess, which bridges these two points.


Despite its no nonsense rigidity, the line has inspired civilizations across the ages. The line is responsible for the discovery of the Americas, as it was thought that crossing the Atlantic would provide a shortcut to India. The line is responsible for the invention of flight, the most efficient means of global travel. The line is responsible for religion, offering humanity a means of understanding the formation of the cosmos—’I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End’ (Revelation 22:13). Time itself obliges to the line, forever leading us towards an end point that remains out of sight—death, judgment day, or worse (let us just hope that the Mayans were wrong about 2012). Luckily for us, the excesses of the time-line—seconds minutes and hours—are exactly what make life on earth possible in the first place.


We are all bound to the line in myriad other ways: taking the subway, watching a film, ordering a meal at a restaurant, driving on the interstate. And just as with time, it is the filler of that line which gives meaning to life: reading a good book during a commute to work, taking joy in the storytelling of a film, eating a fine meal in good company, taking the scenic route for a portion of the trip. The variability of the filler suggests that the line itself is perhaps more dynamic than we initially give it credit, microscopically branching off in a million different directions—a fractal geometry.


E. Sean Bailey


Casa Nova, Hermann Finsterlin, 1920 (source)


While Modernism was taking hold, Hermann Finsterlin was turning his back on arc segments and lines drawn at ninety degree angles, claiming to the world that you ‘colorful buds, phallic shapes, sea urchins and coral formations, shells, tentacled underwater creatures and erotic couplings from which emerge, bizarre thorns, zig zags and rays’. Through his globally transforming lines, Finsterlin communicated an eccentricity, which was innate in their construction.


Erandi de Silva






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