View Artist Statement
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Gallery Direct Interview with VICKY BRAGO-MITCHELL|
Vicky considers fractals to be “divine geometry.” Using her background in photography, she creates her pieces by choosing patterns, studying the light and shadows and then manipulating the colors to create images with intricacy and beauty. Each piece, although not a real object, has a familiarity that viewers often associate with.
I understand you attended Stanford University where you received a bachelor’s degree in Spanish Language and literature and then you became a translator. At what point did you develop your interest in photography?
When I was 11 a family friend gave me a camera, one of those old dual-lens types, and I started taking pictures, mostly of creeks and forests.
Did your time spent living in Japan influence your artistic direction at all, and if so, in what way?
Living in Japan has to influence an artist! For the Japanese, daily life is an art form. There is no separation between "serious" art and decorative art, or between amateur and professional. Every housewife arranging flowers on her family's altar is an artist.
I discovered macro photography when I was in Japan, and was fascinated by the possibility of being able to see details in nature larger than in life.
What cultural differences did you encounter as an artist in Tokyo as compared to being an artist in LA?
Nothing specific to being an artist. The cultural differences between the US and Japan are profound and it takes time to understand them. Being a Westerner in Japan, being "gaijin" (outsider), and a fascinating curiosity that schoolchildren point at and giggle about, is a strange experience, no matter what the gaijin's line of work may be.
When did you change over to Fractal art and can you explain what fractal art is?
I discovered fractals accidentally in 2003. They are the products of a new kind of geometry, fractal geometry, which was first fully developed by French mathematician Benoit Mandelbrot in the 1980s. Mathematicians wanted to be able to describe the world in geometric terms. (This has profound implications.) The pictures are produced by repetitions (iterations) of simple formulas, the number of repetitions limited only by computing power.
Changing over from photography to Fractal art is a big change in direction. Did you experiment at all with digital photography before deciding on Fractal art as your primary media?
I had a digital camera before I discovered fractals, but now I don't use it much. Fractals are a new world, and right now it's much more interesting to me than the real world.
Fractals are a mathematical based artwork, and music has mathematical qualities as well. Does being married to a composer play a roll in your creative process?
Not directly. I have an idea, though, of making a film using one of John's longer instrumental pieces and fractal animation that complements it. The software to do that doesn't exist now, and I can't write software myself. Even if I could, it would overwhelm my PC. Even the very limited fractal animation programs that are available now are so memory-intensive that my machine can barely handle them, and I have about as much capacity as you can get on an ordinary PC.
In most artistic forms, the artist has a preconceived notion about the final imagery of the art before starting. When you develop a fractal image, do you try and associate it with something familiar as part of the creative process?
I don't plan pictures at all. Each one is the result of thousands of clicks, every click a decision made at that moment. Sometimes I associate the pictures with a setting, for example "Microbes" I think of as something seen through a microscope, and "Jungle" looks like a jungle to me. But those verbal associations are made after the picture is finished, when I'm clicking on Save and thinking of a title.
Do you use special software to develop your fractals and what special process do you use that is unique or unusual?
I use Ultra Fractal. So do thousands of other fractal artists. Mine are unusual only because they reflect my personality, and I'm a very odd person.
What motivates you to create your fractal art?
I made them first for myself, because I was tired of looking at everything I'd been looking at all my life. Their purpose is to delight the eye and tickle the brain, beginning with my own eyes and brain.
Your fractals are certainly beautiful, but how would you describe your fractal work as being unique or different from other artists working in fractals?
You've already hit on what's different about them. Art is produced for many purposes, including political protest and expression of zeitgeist. Beauty has not been fashionable in our culture for decades. Many fractal artists imitate abstract art styles of the 20th century (these are usually the guys). The women tend to not care about being taken seriously, and do hyper-feminine girly stuff.
How have you found the reactions to your fractal art differ from that of your photography? Do you find people are resistant to this new type of media?
People have always liked my photos, but fractals get a different kind of response. Artists, mathematicians and young children are the most enthusiastic. Adults who don't understand what they are tend to be confused by them.
How do you see your fractal art evolving in the future?
Oh, I have no idea, and I like it that way! Being able to predict the future would take all the adventure out of life. I'm getting better technically, learning more about what I can do. At first it was overwhelming, because the possibilities are literally endless. Now at least I have a rough framework in my head.
What would be the most important message you would like to convey to people viewing your art?
Would you like to dance?
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