Exploring the unseen; the story of genetic fractals

Reposted from my design blog. I am preparing an exhibition of genetic fractal art and this is an introduction to this.


With genetic fractals I am exploring the process of creation. A process that starts with nothing and evolves into something both beautiful and complex at once. Every artwork of genetic fractals has a clear origin: a thin line or a spike at the very heart of the form. From this origin, this seed, the shapes evolves and grows into the form.

But this work is only one facet of my search for creation. The question that I am really asking is: what is creation? What is it that makes something beautiful? What is it that makes it original and special? But underneath all of this lurks a deep question that humanity has pondered ever since it became conscious of itself: how did the most successful of all creations originate: life and its big sister, the universe?

Genetic fractals are my answer to that question. At its core is a mathematical theory that models the concept of the code of life: DNA. Each genetic fractal has its own DNA and just like our own DNA determines all of our features, so does the DNA that underlies the genetic fractal art. Starting from the original seed at the centre of the genetic fractal form, its DNA determines how it evolves, which direction it should bend to and whether it it should grown new branches. The DNA determines the deep colours that give the genetic fractals their uniqueness as does the thickness of the tentacles, branches and sprigs.

But how does this answer the question of creation? How does the DNA that gives form to these ‘things’ get created in the first place? The short and only acceptable answer is: through randomness. By generating random DNA, an infinite number of potential forms are created. But just as in nature, only the fittest, most beautiful and most intriguing are retained. Not by a supernatural force. But by myself, the artist. I watch the genetic fractals randomly emerge and select those that tell a story of their own uniqueness.

When we study these genetic fractals we see much that is familiar. We can see flowers, tree like structures, organic forms and the sort of life we may see in coral sees. But we can also find massive architectures that remind us of spiralling galaxies or even the Big Bang itself. Some of these genetic fractals appear to be defining the very notion of space and time.

It is not surprising that these random forms are so familiar, after all, they are selected by a human, the artist. But there are also forms that resemble nothing familiar and yet, they beg to be selected. They beg to be taken out of the unseen and become real.



Henk Mulder studied engineering in the Netherlands and mathematics in the UK but if you ask him what he is, he’d describe himself as a traveller, an explorer. A thinker, a tinkerer and an artist. A renaissance man, a multi-potentialite. For a big part of his career he was an engineer at CERN, the European laboratory for particle research and this taught him that it is OK, and perfectly feasible to explore the edges of human knowledge. The rest of his professional work is centred around the business of travel.

He began his search for the origins of creation and creativity after travelling extensively in Asia where art has philosophical underpinnings and is pervasive throughout traditional culture and society. His exploration of the philosophy of creation can be seen on one of his blogs, geneticfractals.wordpress.com. The development of the fundamentals, the nuts and bolts and science of genetic fractals is on another blog, geneticfractals.org.

Although Henk Mulder as an amateur has been involved in different art forms throughout his life, this exhibition is the first serious effort to communicate and share his vision of his work on genetic fractals through art.


2 thoughts on “Exploring the unseen; the story of genetic fractals

  1. Re: [New post] Exploring the unseen; the story of genetic fractals Amsterdam, 20/04/2017, 01:05 PM Ha die Henk, Ouwe exhibitionist! Hoeveel tijd aan random werk gaat er nou in zo’n Creation zitten bij benadering? En als het ontstaan een random iets is, is het dan nog wel Art? Zoals ik het me nu voorstel wordt het object gecreeerd met een algorithme, klopt dat wel? En hoeveel tijd gaat er voorbij voordat er een plaatje op het scherm komt? Groeten, Bert Voorlopig kom ik niet verder dan wat balkies opgestapeld, niet random.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ha, ik zat op die vraag te wachten! is fotografie kunst? De fotograaf drukt maar op een knop. is een verrotte varkenskop in een plexiglas doos kunst? Damien Hirst? Anton Heiboer? Ja, ja en ja. Kunst is niet wat je maakt, kunst is wat je ziet.

      Maar in mijn geval is er inderdaad een creatief process. De wiskundige formulering, de programmas die ik schrijf en de magische ingredient: kunstmatige DNA. Voor ieder “plaatje” wat ik selecteer, worden er 100 gegenereerd. Van die 100 moet de juist hoek vinden en belichting voordat ik de winner selecteer. 100 tot 500 minuten per plaatje schat ik. Dat begint al op te tellen. Toch?

      Maar dat is niet belangrijk, de art visie hier is wat ik zie in een random fractaal universum. De objekten die ik selekteer. De ‘random’ parameters die ik aanpas om de juiste familie van vormen. De wiskundige onderbouw. Mijn verhaal van de lone mad man, verloren in een wereld van zijn eigen creatie.

      Art is in the story, in the process and the vision. En wie weet, het zou een fijn bestaan zijn om her en der wat ten toon te stellen en wat werk te verkopen. Dat ben j emet me eens.


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