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Kevin Suffern

University of Technology, Sydney
Broadway, Australia
kevin@it.uts.edu.au
Nebula
95cm x 65cm

Artist Statement: I have been writing ray tracers for 10 years to use in teaching, research, and computer art. In my art work I try to create images of great fractal complexity from the simplest possible scenes. Impact, Nebula, and Blue were created by ray tracing a single hollow black sphere with a mirror on its inner surface. The sphere normals are altered by a random bump map.

I place the camera and a number of coloured lights inside the sphere and ray trace their reflections by allowing the rays to bounce between 8 and 10 times off the inner surface. The bump map causes the rays to be reflected in random directions at each bounce, creating a chaotic system of light rays within the sphere. The images consist of the specular highlights of the lights, and their reflections, on the inner surface of the sphere. Because order often arises out of chaos, the resulting images are not completely random, but instead have a structure to them. Impact looks to me like an asteroid coming from the top left and hitting a planet, Nebula reminds me of the wispy and filamentary structure of planetary or interstellar nebulae, while parts of Blue remind me of clouds

Lighthouse was created by removing the bump map, and adding a shiny blue sphere that penetrates a small distance into the hollow sphere. This was ray traced with a single white light and produces multiple reflections of the blue sphere and light on the inner surface.

None of these images were planned in the sense that I had any vision of what they would look like. I usually have no idea what the images will look like before they are ray traced. I do, however, know when an image looks interesting or promising, and I then refine it by adjusting any of the approximately 80 parameters that define the scene. On average, each image took about two weeks of experimenting before I was happy with it.

The images were printed with a LightJet printer on archival photographic paper.