Sculptures mimic nature's fractals in interesting and thought-provoking ways

Fractal sculpture

Not sure why, but we love fractals — whether they're in trippy videos or the grocery store, they just draw you in. Two visual artists based in São Paulo — Janaina Mello of São Gotardo, Brazil, and Daniele Francesco Landini of Milan, Italy — create beautiful 3D fractal sculptures using rope.

They have mounted 20 different exhibits of these sculptures, which they call "Ciclotramas," throughout Brazil and Italy since 2010, re-imagining the “choreography of intertwining lines” with each exhibit to mirror the shapely, geometric complexity of organic objects.

Mello and Landini suspend and splay hemp and colorful cloth ropes from ceilings, coil thick lengths of rope down flights of stairs, and fray and tack delicate ends of unwound twine to gallery walls. Each installation seems to grow before your eyes, evoking the mathematically precise occurrence of fractals in nature: tree branches, feathers, leaf veins, blood vessels, plant roots, tentacles, fern fronds, honeycombs, river deltas, brain synapses, seashells, lightning, cauliflower, the bronchi of lungs, the crystal lattices of snowflakes and salt, the lipid blooms of spoiled chocolate.

What do you see?

Fractal on wall

From "Ciclotrama 19 (azul)" 2015.

Fractal and rock

From "Ciclotrama 18 (espiral negra)" 2015.

Rope fractal

From "Ciclotrama 17 (canto)" 2015.

Rope fractal

From "Ciclotrama 17 (canto)" 2015.

Rope fractals

From "Ciclotrama 17 (canto)" 2015.

Fractal and shadows

From "Ciclotrama 15" 2014.

Fractal on a red wall

From "Ciclotrama I" 2010.

Fractal and phone

From "Ciclotrama 8 (rotina)" 2012

Fractal with chest

From "Ciclotrama 7 (mágoa)" 2012.

Red fractal statue

From "Ciclotrama II" 2011. 

This story first appeared as a blog post from PRI's Sideshow podcast.