# A mathematical theory, but others provide useful models

A retrospective of his work several years ago at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City drew lines around the blocks, and an award winning film of his life and art was released at eh end of 2000. In Jackson Pollock's drip paintings as in nature, certain patterns are repeated again and again at various levels of magnification. Some fractal patterns exist only in mathematical theory, but others provide useful models for the irregular yet patterned shapes found in nature. Physicist Richard Taylor was research, he began to notice that drips and splotches on Pollock's canvases seemed to create pleating patterns at different size scales just like fractals. A skeptic might suggest the effect is coincidental. Pollock clearly knew what he was after: The later the paining, the richer and more complex its patterns and the high its fractal dimension. Blue Poles, on e of Pollock's last paintings, now valued at more than \$Thirty million, was paint over a period of six moths and boasts the highest fractal mension of any Pollock painting Taylor tested: 1.72. Pollock was apparently testing the limits of what the human eye would find aesthetically pleasing. To find out if Pollock's fractals account for his lasting appear Taylor next invented a device he calls the Pollockizer. It consisted of a container of paint hanging from a string like a pendulum which can be kicked into motion by electromagnetic coils near the top. As the container moves, a nozzle at the bottom flings paint on a piece of paper on the ground beneath it. By tuning the size and frequency of the kick Taylor could make the Pollockizer's motions chaotic or regular, thereby creating both fractal and nonfactual patterns. When Taylor surveyed one hundred twenty people to see which patterns the preferred, one hundred thirteen chose the fractal patterns. Two recent studies perceptual psychology had also found that people clearly prefer fractal dimensions similar to …