The Feedback Fractal Project
It may well be that the ideas of Chaos and Fractals will prove to be regarded as among the most important of the 20th Century. The end of the 19th Century ushered the beginning of the Industrial Revolution which, during the course of a few decades, completely transformed human culture. The harbinger of this jarring displacement was the Eiffel tower, a work of art heralding the arrival of Modernity and the Age of the Machine.
If we were to choose an emblem for our Age today, most certainly, it would be the cell phone - a device that, in less than a decade, has become ubiquitous throughout the world. Few would argue against the notion that here in the second decade of the New Millennium, we have arrived squarely into the Digital Age. Progress is good and sometimes not, yet it seems always to be inexorable.
The artists of the European Futurist Movement of the first part of the 20th Century fanatically celebrated technology. Their Manifesto, published in Paris in 1909 concluded with: "We will sing of great crowds excited by work, by pleasure, and by riot; we will sing of the multicolored, polyphonic tides of revolution in the modern capitals; we will sing of the vibrant nightly fervor of arsenals and shipyards blazing with violent electric moons; greedy railway stations that devour smoke-plumed serpents; factories hung on clouds by the crooked lines of their smoke; bridges that stride the rivers like giant gymnasts, flashing in the sun with a glitter of knives; adventurous steamers that sniff the horizon; deep-chested locomotives whose wheels paw the tracks like the hooves of enormous steel horses bridled by tubing; and the sleek flight of planes whose propellers chatter in the wind like banners and seem to cheer like an enthusiastic crowd."
The Strength of the Curve, Tullio Crali, 1930
Bungalo, Arts and Crafts, 1940
Eiffel Tower, 1889
Yet by the middle of the Century artists of an international "Arts and Crafts" movement began a revolt against the industrialization of life. The founders and proponents of the movement saw factory work as dehumanizing and unfulfilling and the manufactured object lacking in the beauty and intrinsic value of the unique hand made object. They asked “…what would become of a people so caught up in the quick production and consumption of mere things?” They brought into question whether progress was worth the price. They made a call “…to integrate labor and art, lend beauty to everyday acts and objects, and seek coherence, unity, and simplicity in all aspects of life, for all people".
Much has changed in a hundred years yet these contrasting sentiments are echoed even in our Age today and it is in this context that the Feedback Fractal Project was born.
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The history of art is a large and complicated subject dealing with a huge body of work whose meaning can be interpreted from widely differing perspectives. "Shock of the New", an eight hour television series created by the historian, Robert Hughes, for the BBC, greatly influenced my understanding of Modernism and its relationship to the historical events of the 20th Century. A Century which brought huge advances in the Sciences and Technology resulting in revolutionary global consequences. This is the legacy we, in the 21st Century, have inherited.