I use fractals in my artwork. Fractals are complex, repetitive, mathematically based shapes and patterns that resemble those found in nature. They are made with the aid of computers. The word "fractal" also means an algorithm or shape, characterized by patterns repeated at every scale (self-similarity). "Fractal" also refers to the branch of mathematics named and explored by Benoit Mandelbrot (1924-2010).  

"Clouds are not spheres, mountains are not cones, coastlines are not circles and bark is not smooth, nor does the lightning travel in a straight line."
-Benoit Mandelbrot

Before Mandelbrot and fractals, scientists estimated or measured real world phenomena by treating them like traditional or classic geometric shapes like spheres, cones, circles and lines. These provided rough approximations that were useful even if not wholly accurate. Trying to accurately represent the real phenomena mathematically became impossibly complex very fast. The calculations were referred to as "messy" and scientists contented themselves with their approximations. The natural world was considered "messy." Maybe scientists didn't believe that a perfect world would only consist of classical geometric shapes but they acted that way.

Then in the 1960s Benoit Mandelbrot started studying self-similarity in a number of papers. In 1975 he coined the term "fractal," short for fractional dimension. He illustrated this mathematical definition with striking computer-constructed visualizations. These images captured the popular imagination and led to the popular meaning of the term "fractal" as used in my artwork.

What was so important to science was that fractal mathematics could be used to much more accurately estimate, measure and predict real world phenomena for the first time. It turned out that fractal behavior was all around us! Fractal behavior has been found in:

Weather patterns
Noise bursts on telephone lines
Commodity and stock prices
Wildlife populations
Turbulence in fluids
Dripping faucets
Cars clustering on an expressway
Coastlines and landscapes
Blood vessels
The distribution of earthquakes
Surfaces contacting one another
Intestinal tracts