Triple Zero Drive By
By Curator Pamela Hart

You are viewing the fractal dimension – a meditation of shapes that repeats endlessly. These forms, called fractals, are like fun house mirrors. No matter how far you look into them, you see essentially the same thing over and over again. Artist Carl Van Brunt plays with fractals to create his otherworldly images currently featured at the Drive By Gallery.

You’re confused? What the bleep are fractals? They’re geometric forms that repeat while getting smaller and smaller. Consider the fern. Every little leaf – part of the bigger one – has almost the same shape as the whole fern leaf. There’s repetition, and variation, to this patterning. Fractal structures are found in almost every part of the universe, from bacteria cultures to galaxies to your body. That’s probably all you need to know to be captivated by these eye-catching works of art.

Van Brunt, a digital artist, has long been intrigued by fractal design. His work explores the curiously beautiful ways that fractals encompass repetition as well as variation within their patterns. This installation, titled Triple Zero Drive By, is the third in an ongoing series featuring his sculptural figure. Also on view are a selection of 2-D digital works, which, like Triple Zero Drive By, are based on themes derived from Van Brunt’s study and practice of Buddhism.

An abstract representation of a seated Buddha meditating, the sculpture is about three feet high. The simplicity of the three zeros, stacked one atop another, offsets complicated fractal images projected across the white structure. Van Brunt uses a trippy palette. Luminous pink, blue, purple and orange swirl and spill over the circles. Think about the sixties, Ken Kesey and his Merry Pranksters on the Magic Bus, the Jefferson Airplane and the Grateful Dead, along with psychedelic black light posters, and you’ll have a sense of Van Brunt’s bold color spectrum.

Inexpensive fractal-generating software downloaded from the web is used to create the images, though Van Brunt claims no knowledge of the mathematics behind the concept or software. Once he’s created the design he often further manipulates his images using Photoshop. He acknowledges it’s the unexpected surprises that are compelling and evocative.

“Working in this way is like going for a walk with no preconceived destination. I never know what’s around the next turn. The universe evoked by fractal imagery is literally endless and expands in all directions.”

A resident of Cold Spring, Van Brunt is Gallery Director at Woodstock Artists Association and Museum. He promotes the work of Hudson Valley artists through pop-up exhibitions and art fairs.



“I like to think of my work as digital painting. I often use a drawing tool called a digitizing pen and tablet. This digital pen is pressure sensitive and drawing with it is almost exactly the same as drawing on paper or painting on canvas. The main difference is that through the use of sophisticated software, I can convert my digital pen into almost any traditional tool, from charcoal to airbrush to watercolor, oil paint, pencil… to any tool imaginable. Better yet, I can invent entirely new drawing tools, ones that unlock whole new worlds of imagery and imagination. Digital paint brushes, many of which I design myself, give me a way to explore previously unreachable territory.

My most recent work makes extensive use of 3-D software and also software for generating fractals. Drawing by hand with a digitizing pen, as described above, is still used to create various surfaces and textures that are mapped onto the 3-D shapes. Working with 3-D software is a bit like making sculpture, albeit in a virtual studio.

For me the most interesting art is often that in which the final image has emerged through the process of its creation. I usually plunge into my work with few preconceived notions and no fixed idea what the painting will ultimately become. I want to be surprised. I want to discover something I have not yet seen. It is my hope that the finished work will be a point of departure for the viewer’s own surprises and discoveries.

I seek a balance between concept and execution. I am interested in art that is thoughtful, emotionally expressive and well made. Ultimately, I am drawn to art that doesn’t have to be explained. That doesn’t mean that the art I like can’t be talked or written about, but rather that its value does not depend on external intellectualization. In Pollock’s words, “Enough talk, let’s see it.”