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Visualizing Infinity

3-D Fractals. Finally.
September 8, 2010, 2:23pm

Mandelbox Zoom.

There are no doubt times in your life when you’ve been witness to visuals like those found in the video above, zooming in on the box’s patterns like a collision with infinity. Maybe when you close your eyes after looking at the sun. Or maybe for other reasons. Infinite numbers. Difficult to grasp and explain. One explanation uses a hotel that has infinite rooms and so is able to accommodate an infinite number of guests because every time someone shows up, wanting to rest up, everyone just moves along one. You follow? Thought not. It’s much better to have a visual aide. And that’s where fractals—geometric shapes split into parts that each represent a copy of the whole— come in. You’ve probably seen them decorating a college bud’s bedroom wall, or a hippy may’ve hounded you at a festival while you were queuing for a beer and intensely spoken about their importance in the cosmic (dis)order. Actually, fractals are created using something called the Mandelbrot set, which is generated by repeating the same mathematical function over and over again, which makes them an optical way of perceiving infinity. So far, so far out. But a result of these fractal patterns is an object called a Mandelbox. Recently thought up by Tom Lowe, it’s a fractal box that shares the same properties as the Mandelbrot set. It basically looks a bit like that creepy puzzle box from Hellraiser, but hopefully you won’t be hounded by extradimensional beings who want to eat your mind and look like a bunch of butchers on their way to a fetish night while you watch it.

If you’re of a mathematical mind, and you want to render your own animations, head to Teamfresh’s website, where you can collaborate with them. Most Mandelbox fractals are created using an open source piece of software called Mandelbulb.

And if that doesn’t interest you, the animation below has the added bonus of being in Cross-Eye 3D and set to Prodigy’s “Out of Space”.

Mandelbox Cross-Eye 3D Trip (aka The Clownbox)

They kind of remind me of William Blake’s line, “To see the world in a grain of sand…hold infinity in the palm of your hands”. Coming to a VJ set of pounding crusty trance at a club near you soon.