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By David Finkelstein | December 21, 2003

“Gestalt” presents an abstract landscape in motion, entirely generated by mapping variables from a single mathematical fractal equation into a three dimensional space. The undulating forms generated by this formula are rendered in elegant black and white, in a sequence of brief “scenes,” each with subtly different lighting and mood. The forms constantly morph, turning themselves inside out, as the virtual camera slowly pans or zooms. An electronic sound score, evoking an otherworldly ambience, changes with each new view.

What do these forms actually look like? Sometimes like an abstracted, perfected version of lava or sludge breaking apart. The forms often have the fernlike lacy edges typical of fractals. One scene reminded me of continents slowly drifting together; another looked like an enormous egg floating over a cavern, still another was like paper thin waves on a stormy sea, slicing into one another.

Fleisch’s choice of black and white, and the rigor of generating the entire video from a single formula set this piece above the triteness which so often plagues psychedelic video art. “Gestalt” is not merely a series of cool images to gawk at while you are stoned (although it would also serve that purpose admirably.) It is a journey through a strange, awe-inspiring mathematical landscape. I found myself amazed that a mathematical space this beautiful is in some sense “real”. Like many mathematical objects from the world of fractals, “Gestalt” is evocative of objects from the real world, but in an entirely abstract way.

Fleisch’s visual and rhythmic choices show a high degree of artistic sensitivity throughout, and his aesthetic choices are what create the video’s sense of powerful, yet quiet drama. Anyone who has ever looked at the representation of a fractal on a computer knows that 99.99% of it is completely uninteresting to look at, so Fleisch’s skill at finding the most beautiful sections for us to travel through is of prime importance. The timing of the scenes and the movement of the virtual camera also serve to heighten the drama, usually making us feel as if we are suspended inside an immense, churning maelstrom of startling form.
As the title implies, “Gestalt” takes us on a breathtaking journey through a world where not only is the whole contained in each of the parts, but a world which demands that you experience it holistically, intuitively grasping the relationship between all points on the screen, in order to appreciate its ravishing beauty.

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