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This Is Your Brain on Fractals

Julius Horsthuis strikes again with a hypnotic new short.
Screencaps via

Fractals are complex, self-repeating patterns that never end. They’re mathematical and scientific, but also trippy enough to excite the psychonaut. David Foster Wallace once said that his big tome of a novel Infinite Jest was structured after a type of fractal called a Sierpinski Gasket, which he said looked like “a triangle on acid.”

It also turns out they’re great fun when it comes to digital art and virtual reality, as visual effects designer and video artist Julius Horsthuis has proven time and time again with his “Fractal Shorts.”


For his latest in the series, Our Fractal Brains, the artist creates planetary fractal landscapes that stand as a metaphor for the infinite complexity of our brains. Horsthuis even pens a little poem to accompany his 3D animated fractal trip, explaining the video’s concept, which appears as text across the video’s visuals.

When we look

at our world

we search

for patterns

struggling to make sense

of a senseless place

Peace is found

in chaos

as we fill it

with purpose


create meaning

in our Fractal Brains

Our Fractal Brains from Julius Horsthuis on Vimeo.

As Horsthius explains in tutorials, he creates his fractal shorts with Mandelbulb3D software in a traditional VFX pipeline. In the tutorials, he also talks about how to pair this software with programs like Nuke, 3dsMAX and Maya.

Click here to see more of Julius Horsthuis’ Fractal Shorts and other work.


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