About the 2011 Contest

Benoit & Aliette Mandelbrot Benoit & Aliette Mandelbrot in San Sebastian

From Aliette Mandelbrot

I am moved to be asked to replace my late husband Benoit Mandelbrot as Honorary co-President of the 2012 fractal competition.

Although it is impossible to ever replace him in his vision and good judgment, I can only hope to use the knowledge I acquired with him in the past. We had looked together at many of the beautiful fractal images submitted to the jury, we discussed our opinions, and most of the time we agreed on the aesthetic value of what was to be judged.

Each year, the images have been more complex and always interesting and beautiful. Imagination and good taste are key factors in the results and I am expecting no less from the coming competition.

I cannot help but marvel at the enthusiasm and efficiency of Javier Barrallo, Damien Jones and his helpers in organizing these competitions. I wish them success and wholeheartedly thank them for showing once more to the world the beauty of fractal images.

Aliette Mandelbrot

From Michael Barnsley

It is a privilege to be an honorary co-President of the 2012 Benoit Mandelbrot Fractal Art Contest. Benoit Mandelbrot was a seriously great man and the void he has left will not be filled. But it is a delight to celebrate part of his vision through this event. Benoit taught how to see the world anew, as though for the first time, in a non-Euclidean manner. There is no going back: trees, clouds, waves, so many parts of the physical observable universe, now can be viewed as part of his geometry.

Benoit often mentioned the exciting idea of pictures leading to new mathematics via conjectures. He had in mind, for example, his famous conjecture, later proved, that the Mandelbrot set is connected. I am led to think, first, of the ancient Greeks, staring at drawings on papyrus, beginning to conjecture the form and nature of objective rigorous geometry. Now, for us, it all seems so obvious. But it wasn’t, and it took centuries of honing and arguing and mistakes to develop what is now known as classical geometry. I am led to think, second, of Benoit, and us, staring at computer screens, colored dots gleaming through glass, starting to imagine a new, more complex geometry of form and color. All of us, artists, mathematicians, and scientists alike, are part of this new adventure, pushing the boundary between the objective and the subjective, in participating in, studying, or commenting on, this competition. As Mandelbrot said, it is wonderful to see how playful ideas can lead to deep realizations.

Professor Michael Barnsley
Department of Mathematics
Mathematical Sciences Institute
Australian National University
Canberra, Australia

A Brief History of This Contest

Three times previously, in 2006, 2007 and 2009, we have organized a contest and subsequent exhibition celebrating fractal art. Each time, Benoit Mandelbrot was our honorary president and he was pleased to lend his name to our efforts.

On October 14, 2010 Benoit Mandelbrot passed away. For decades he furthered our knowledge of mathematics and inspired others to do the same. This contest is dedicated to his memory. His enthusiasm for this project will be missed and his shoes are impossible to fill, but Aliette Mandelbrot and Michael Barnsley have agreed to be our honorary presidents for this edition of the contest.

Our medium—fractal art—is a small part of all that has come from Mandelbrot’s work. Let’s celebrate the amazing and unexpected things that can come from mathematics.

Damien Jones, Contest Administrator