INTERVIEW WITH THE ARTIST
Julius Horsthuis the digital artist behind Fractal Worlds, on view through September 30th, 2018. Please note these answers are paraphrased and not direct quotes from the artist.
Tell us a little about who you are and your background.
I am Dutch and I grew up in Amsterdam. From the age of 10, I wanted to make movies, I even had a video camera and was always playing around. I applied for film school but was rejected three times. So I decided to work in the film industry. I got started at age 19 doing all the tech things on film sets, like sound, lighting and camera work. Afterwards, I went into computer graphics and worked as a visual effects artist and supervisor. I worked on some interesting films doing design work. For example, I was the visual effects supervisor for Manchester by the Sea. Throughout this time, I still wanted to tell stories and do more, but I realized becoming a director is difficult if you don’t have a team.
How did you get interested in and started creating this kind of work?
I discovered fractals back in 2010. I still wanted to do movies, so I was writing scripts and doing research. I have always been interested in cyber punk or sci-fi genres (like the movie Interstellar). While I was working on a script of those genres I found a video of fractals online. They interested me as a setting for a story, I wanted to make them more fleshed out, like a background for a movie. So I started to look for software that makes this possible. My background in animation and special effects opened many doors and possibilities around this.
To me, fractals were a way of creating beautiful scenes and spaces. I know how to render and think from a cameraman’s perspective, so I applied those skills to these virtual mathematical worlds. I started to experiment and created a few shorts; these received positive feedback, which encouraged me to continue to experiment, ultimately I decided to focus on this. I wanted to push fractals to the limits and get these experiences to the people. For me it is all about motion and storytelling, but in an abstract way. I do not do stills; my work feels like the movies to me.
Can you tell us a little bit about your process?
My process is of discovery rather than creation. The shapes and spaces visitors see come from a mathematical reality, not from my head. Much like a nature photographer I find the right space, and capture it at the right angle, lighting, composition, etc.
I use a software called Mandelbulb 3D. There is a whole community of enthusiasts who create with this software, but primarily they work in stills. This software has amazing potential, but renders straight from Mandelbulb 3D have a trippy 90s aesthetic. I do not find this look appealing and have found that most people do not prefer it either, it lacks depth and cinematic qualities.