Mixing Memory

Fractal Expressionism?

Here is an interesting article by Taylor, Micolich, and Jonas (via Integrated Science) on Jackson Pollock and the physics behind his work’s appeal:

This question triggers reservations from both scientists and artists. However, for the abstract paintings produced by Jackson Pollock in the late 1940s, scientific objectivity proves to be an essential tool for determining their fundamental content. Pollock dripped paint from a can on to vast canvases rolled out across the floor of his barn. Although recognised as a crucial advancement in the evolution of modern art, the precise quality and significance of the patterns created by this unorthodox technique remain controversial. Here we analyse Pollock’s patterns and show that they are fractal – the fingerprint of Nature.

I don’t think “scientific objectivity proves to be an essential tool for determining” the “fundamental content” of Pollock’s paintings, but work like this could have implications for neuroaesthetics. We might, for example, be able to explain why people prefer “chaotic drip trajectories,” as Taylor et al. describe Pollock’s paintings, to non-chaotic ones using Ramachandran’s abhorrence of coincidence principle (see here). It might be that a general principle of neuroaesthetics is that people prefer natural (though perhaps exaggerated) patterns to unnatural ones, and chaotic patterns just look more natural. Anyway, the article’s pretty cool.