Create crazy copies

videofeedback2 Connect a camera to a TV screen so that the screen shows the camera’s view. You could use a web-cam and computer screen instead.

Point the camera at the screen. What sort of patterns can you make?

Try playing with the lighting and film at different angles.
When you connect a video camera to a screen, the screen shows what the camera sees. If the camera looks at the screen, it sees the screen displaying a smaller screen, displaying a smaller screen, displaying an even smaller screen, displaying an even smaller screen, displaying an even smaller screen and so on. The pattern never ends and is known as a fractal.

The word fractal is derived from the Latin fractus meaning broken, or fractured. A fractal can be described as a geometric shape which is made up of parts, each of which is a smaller copy of the whole shape. This property is known as self-similarity.

Fractals can be found in nature wherever self-similarity occurs, e.g. fern fronds. Even some vegetables, like cauliflower, have this property. These are called approximate fractals because although the branches or fronds are a similar shape as the whole, they are not identical. Other examples of approximate fractals include clouds, coastlines, mountain ranges and snow flakes