Interview with Barabeke

November 5, 2015 1:14 am  /  Fractal art  /  ,
The Carrying of The Cross. Bosch vs Barabeke

“The Carrying of The Cross”. Bosch, 1500/1535 (left); Barabeke, 2010 (right)

Who is Barabeke?
Barabeke in my local dialect from Padova means “bogeyman”. That’s how my father sometimes used to call me when I was a kid. I am an Italian in London, a man of intuition and wit, but after all a common man with common problems. More than an artist I am someone who likes to provide others with inspiration, no matter if they are artists or scientists. My mission is to inspire people who are less common than me who will come after me. I don’t hope to succeed in it, but I try.

How do works like your “The Carrying of the Cross” come to life, also on a technical level?
My most complex works require, apart from some inner work, a huge work with Photoshop. My version of Bosch’s “The Carrying of the Cross”, in which I am the model for all the 18 characters and where all sort of symbols plus fractals appear, required months of work and the final image file was 1GB heavy. I interpreted Bosch’s original characters in a free and grotesque way. Someone may not like that I also interpreted Christ, but at the same time I was the persecutor, the vicious, the proud… I consider that painting from Bosch as a powerful representation of the human drama that unravels within us in what Jung would call “collective unconscious”. In my psychedelic version I am all the characters not in an effort to be a superman (even though I also appear as Superman) but as a common man.

Talking about fractal art, what’s your process for creating those works?
I’ve never been good at maths but thanks to a software called Ultra Fractal I can play with formulas and visually explore the fractal space that is generated. Then it’s all a matter to follow my instinct. When it comes to fractal art, mine is more a work of recognition than a work of creation.

Looking at many of your works it’s possible to notice a certain taste for symmetry.
As an indigenous who looks at it for the first time, I am not entirely convinced that behind a mirror there is nothing to be found. From here my interest for reflecting surfaces and my passion for apps that permit to reflect images. Many of my recent works have been entirely created on my iPhone.

What is Fractal Surrealism?
Fractal Surrealism is simply a term I created to define those works in which I mix photos with fractals. I don’t think it exists as an artistic movement, I’ve never seen anything similar so far at least. If we talk about digital surrealism, I think there are many people around who are much better than me. For me the creative act, rather than an aesthetic pursuit, is an urgency that I cannot avoid and is fuelled by the need to deliver my message to the next generations.

What’s the message behind your works?
I hold eccentric opinions about the origin and nature of the universe, which have some scientist among their sympathizers. Basically I believe that our universe exists within a machine, a super computer running a simulation that is so complex that it will take us several centuries to create it ourselves. As a consequence reality is a projection of our consciousness, as in Eastern philosophies or in Berkeley. Nothing exists if not observed, or better it exists as potential until is calculated into existence by interacting with us. Time travel is technically possible, and so instantly reaching every corner of the universe and beyond. Those who created us live in a dimension above us within an universe that is basically a Russian doll containing ours.

And what is your purpose in supporting this belief?
I just think it’s a good idea for humanity. An idea that may prove to be a vehicle for peace and maybe save future generations from a dark night… Such idea is just a preparation to my key artistic message, which will be revealed at the end of my Voyage at the centre of the universe, an adventure inside a fractal that I am publishing on my Instagram.

(This interview was originally published in Italian on Daily Storm)

In this visual journey inside a fractal I am going to take you deep down the rabbit hole, make you explore depths and wonders that defy imagination, and perhaps even challenge your vision of reality. We’ll sail together on a magical ship through the waves of space and time, like modern Argonauts looking for gold… Will we ever reach our destination? Only the brave who take the journey will know what the future holds. I can give you a hint though: at the end of this fractal odissey the mysterious words of the song ’39 by Brian May might make a lot of sense… may they be auspicious for our journey! 🙂

Here the ship’s log begins…

DAY 4. Lost as we are inside a tunnel that leads to infinite tunnels, inside the ship the bewilderment of the crew is thankfully rivaled by the excitement for the marvels that keep on manifesting in front of our eyes. The myriad of lines that surround this endless spiral of black holes sometimes give the impression of being lines of code, or words. One member of the crew suggested that we may be traveling inside the mind of God… These visions have been reported by 3 people so far, but we have been unable to capture evidence on camera so we dismissed them as hallucinations. Today is to be reported as an exciting day filled with hope though: we finally found a hole that seems different from the others. As you can see there is a strange line pointing inside the big hole, which we never witnessed before. Clueless and lost as we are, we all agreed to take it as a sign to follow and headed our ship towards that black hole.

A photo posted by Barabeke (@barabeke) on

DAY 5 (Part 2). We magnified the previous pic on the point where our computer spotted the anomaly. I can hardly express how much this picture left us speechless. We basically found evidence of human writing… inside a fractal! The writing is in Italian, it reads "Cerca Trova" ("Seek Find"). The computer confirmed the calligraphy is from Leonardo da Vinci (!) This finding defied our reason like nothing else so far. The most cool and rational within the crew, those who always had an explanation for everything, this time remained silent and you could see in their eyes how much their mind was shaken. On the other side those who in the previous days reported sights we dismissed as hallucinations were full of excitement because they finally could demonstrate that they were not the crazy ones. Two people even got on their knees and started to pray… Whatever we are in, it has an intelligence of its own and is trying to communicate with us.

A photo posted by Barabeke (@barabeke) on

DAY 24. Back from 19 days of black out. Our ship's computer has been sabotaged by one member of the crew. We had to face a riot, it has been difficult to regain control of the ship. There has been blood, but no one was killed. It's difficult to express how much this electrical landscape we are immersed in is challenging our brains, causing all sort of hallucinations, and ultimately spreading mad superstitions among the crew, which caused the riot. We finally repaired the computer and I can update the journal, which would have been rather depressive in the past couple of weeks, both because of the events inside the ship, both because after the great hope after finding the writing of Leonardo "cerca trova" inside the fractal space we have been as lost as ever. The marvellous and hypnotic rabbit hole we are in has lost its power to excite us and as the days went by it became endlessly monotonous and repetitive, as well as terribly silent. We are losing hope of finding our way, the fear of being lost for eternity is raising and is shaking the minds of the most loyal and rational within the crew. We desperately need another sign…

A photo posted by Barabeke (@barabeke) on

DAY 34. After 10 very difficult days, when hope was lost and madness was widely infecting our minds, we finally found another message inside the rabbit hole! From the monotonous and endlessly repetitive fractal space another intelligent sign emerged: the Google logo plus a visual artwork. Our computer identified it as "Journey to the West" by a mysterious Italian artist called Barabeke, a freak who claims to be a "messenger of an extravagant theory about the origin and nature of the universe". There seems to be no relation at all between Google and this guy, which adds even more question marks in our already puzzled minds. No matter how strange the sight, the excitement that brought to us was comparable to the one of a thirsty explorer who after a long and lonesome journey in the desert finally spots an oasis. Without second thoughts we directed our ship closer to the artwork, which we'll be exploring in detail.

A photo posted by Barabeke (@barabeke) on


DAY 35. As our ship got closer to the artwork we found inside the fractal space, we noticed a mysterious doll holding a ball of purple energy with a heart and a cross inside it. As soon as we stopped to observe it, the image started to mutate and all sort of creatures began to arise from it, almost as it was a dream created with Google’s Deep Dream Generator. Soon we found ourselves sucked in that dream full of organic forms with alien eyes all around watching us. It was almost like an evolution in reverse, we went from primates, to reptiles, and finally we reached the insect stage where we found strange bugs whose body seemed to be in part mechanical. In the eye of one of these bugs there was an azure light. As we got closer, that light revealed itself to be the scariest vision we had so far: an eerie creature, some sort of a ghost made of fractals whose power of attraction we could not escape….

This concludes our magical journey. I hope you enjoyed it and will treasure the words we found and the end of the rabbit hole. These Ten Commandments for the Digital Millennium are my heritage for the new generations.

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Mater Historiolosa & Sons. The following are all fractals, the first one generating the batch of 9 in the second pic through “genetical mutation” of the code.

fractal art

fractal art

How a single fractal can tell a thousand stories. One could spend years of his life writing a novel using just these 9 characters… Then burn all those years of work in one tweet that is likely to create zero engagement.

Like the Italian writer Aldo Busi recently wrote: “morta è ogni cultura che non sia mangereccia” (“dead is any culture that can’t be consumed with immediate satisfaction”), as a way to say that a great novel like Moby Dick or Don Quijote could maybe find a writer today devoting part of his life to such opus magnum, but hardly enough readers to turn it into a pillar of our culture. There is just too much distraction, so much easy, fast, colourful, sensational content providing instant gratification, that only what is truly popular and easy for everyone (ie. Gangnam Style) can raise to become a cultural icon. I am not saying there won’t be new great works of literature, I am saying that 99,9% of humanity will ignore them because they will get lost in the noise.