I’ve always liked fireworks. As a kid, I’d save up money from Christmas through June so I could go from tent to stand, finding each summer’s newest designs and a big supply of my favorite classics. In Oregon, consumer fireworks aren’t allowed to go up in the air, so the emphasis is much more on elaborate fountain sequences and novelty gadget fireworks. My friend and I would build tiered platforms and run fuses together into Rube-Goldberg pyrotechnic displays, most of which found a way to burn themselves down by the end. While I always felt like I was missing out on the fun of mortar balls and sky busters, looking back I appreciate the creativity and engineering that went into making small, ground based displays. After a few years living in Washington, where aerial fireworks were commonplace, I found myself making a point to hunt down a good, impressive ground fountain each year.
Fireworks and fractals clearly share some appeal, bright, colorful displays of chaotic color, lines with natural yet otherworldly arcs, all constructed through a careful arrangement of simple interactions. Lucky for me, fractals are much easier to capture pictures of, and as long as my video card stays cool there’s much less risk of fire!