A Fractal Eye for The Colours of Nature - Michael Barnsley
Michael Barnsley’s exhibition record is brief. He has shown his images to family and friends and used them to illustrate publications. But A Fractal Eye for The Colours of Nature is the first public showing of these extraordinary images—landscape photographs and film transformed into mystifying, beautiful detail by the application of fractal geometry.
Contrasting with his exhibition record, Barnsley’s career in mathematics and business has resulted in an extensive professional CV. He is a world leader in the development of fractal compression technology, and is the author of two major books, Fractals Everywhere published by Morgan Kauffman in the US (first and second editions) and SuperFractals published in 2007 by Cambridge University Press in the UK. Michael Barnsley is a professor of mathematics at the ANU who divides his time between Australia and the US.
A Fractal Eye for The Colours of Nature is the most significant visual expression of Michael Barnsley’s lifelong interest in the natural world:
'All my life, everyday, nature calls my eyes to stare and stare with wonder; I have a sense of the pristine, the perfect which lives both in mathematics and in the visual observable world. My art tries to capture this, to see again, as though for the first time, the beauty of it all.'
Considering his background, it was not surprising that the challenge of rendering landscape in fresh, more interesting ways should have led Michael Barnsley to the work shown in A Fractal Eye for The Colours of Nature. The processes he has employed to produce these works will intrigue visitors to the HUW DAVIES GALLERY. But after the ‘straight’ images have been pulled apart and re-formed according to Barnsley’s vision and complex computations, questions remain. Does the process add anything to our perception of the landscape? Are the final images interesting and worth exploring?
A Fractal Eye for The Colours of Nature is a mix of earlier works, showing the possibilities of fractal transformation on a small canvas, and large scale more recent works that demonstrate the power of this process to penetrate and illuminate landscape. Michael Barnsley’s journey from the early works to the five large images in this exhibition represents, in my view, a profound shift in creative achievement and unequivocally answers questions concerning the worth of his efforts. Knowing Michael Barnsley, his passion, determination and visual inquisitiveness, I am certain this exhibition will be followed by many others that will attract great interest.
PhotoAccess is delighted to have been able to present Michael Barnsley’s work to the wider Canberra community in the HUW DAVIES GALLERY at the Manuka Arts Centre.