Genetic fractal sculpture “March”

Henk Mulder

Genetic Fractal “March” (2019)

Wood, 3D printed PLA and lightbulbs, 1 meter high


Over the years I have made some genetic fractal art and during the 2019 end of year break, I made this sculpture. As a fractal, it is quite simplistic, just a trunk and two branches. The two branches are perfectly self-similar with the trunk.

This is the essence of genetic fractals, self replication. Not just the trunk into two branches but also the curvature of the shapes and the proportional reduction of the width of the trunk and branches.

Leonardo da Vinci proposed the width  cross section of the trunk of a tree equals the sum of the cross section of the branches. This is why trees don’t split and collapse under their own weight. The architecture of trees – and genetic fractals – is inherently perfect.

At the apex of the branches are two lights. Although natural trees are truly fractal in that the tree splits into branches that split into branches that split into branches etc., at some point the repeated self similarity breaks and a leaf appears. Or a flower. Or a fruit Or a light bulb.


Genetic fractals, although fractal in form, are generated from a genetic formula, like DNA. This encodes not just the general shape, curvature, branch width etc, but  can also describe 3D printed stars that separate the wooden sticks, the detailed design of the bulb socket and any other detail that makes up the true complex form.

Although this artwork may suggest that these notions are conceptual, they are in fact real and precise. The mathematical formulation can describe any form, thing or device that we encounter in the real world. The “artificial DNA” that generates the complex forms, is the hidden language of reality. A language with its own vocabulary of form and function that allows us to compose complex and beautiful things. This is very different from the boxy and modular world of engineering that produces childish shapes that we consider normal. The world of genetic fractals, feels at home in the natural world where there are no straight lines, 90 degree angles or perfect circles. The real world wiggles and squiggles.


Other genetic fractal art:

Shadow tree “Ombrier I”

Shadow tree “Ombrier II”

Random genetic fractal

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