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Scecina grad's artwork at Clowes Hall reaches milestone


 Conrad Cortellini at Clowes Memorial Hall at Butler University, where his work of art, "Total Pespective Vortex," was installed 25 years ago.  

By Bob Golobish, Vice President of Advancement

Scecina graduate Conrad Cortellini ’61 has had an amazing work of art on public display for years. “Total Perspective Vortex,” his creation completed in 1989, has been hanging in the Grand Lobby of Clowes Memorial Hall of Butler University since 1992. 

A 25th anniversary celebration took place on November 15, 2017. More than 200 people attended the event at Clowes Hall to admire the work and hear the latest from Cortellini. 

The work’s title is taken from an incredible device found in “The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy,” a radio comedy broadcast on BBC Radio the late 1970s, that later became a popular novel. The vortex provides a glimpse of the entire unimaginable infinity of creation. That’s the stuff of science fiction, but Cortellini’s creation is real. 

The paper relief has two panels, one with a spiral vortex and the other with its mirror image, i.e., the structure is completely reversed. Each section has 12 different colored layers stacked one on top of the other, each representing a different elevation. Conrad Cortellini created the paper relief to honor Dr. Benoit Mandelbrot’s discovery and development of fractal geometry in the 1970s. 

A fractal is a never-ending pattern that repeats itself at different scales. This property is called self-similarity. Although fractals are very complex, they are made by repeating a simple process over and over again. Fractals occur naturally. Seashells, hurricanes, and galaxies are the most well-known examples. Mathematical fractals like the Mandelbrot Set are formed by calculating a simple equation thousands of times, feeding the answer back in as input. 

Cortellini has a studio at Scecina, where he is the school’s artist in residence. He is working on a “Feedback Fractal - A Monument For Our Time.” The effort incorporates fractal math, computer coding to generate patterns, and "distributed art production" to build a community of artisans to assemble the required 300,000 folded paper elements by hand. When complete it will be the largest, handmade 3D fractal in the world. 

3 comments (Add your own)

1. Cathy Dezelan wrote:
I enjoyed this article, especially the explanation of a fractal. The artwork is amazing. I am going to Clowes on Friday and will definitely look at the art with fresh eyes. Conrad is obviously
very talented.

Thu, December 7, 2017 @ 8:17 PM

2. William Bowling wrote:
That is some great artwork. I don't remember Scecina having much of an art program. I really would like to see the largest 3D fractal in the world;. Where is that going to be displayed at?

I graduated from Scecina Memorial in 1974. I am 62. Seems like he would have been in my class. What class was Conrad Cortellini in?

Fri, December 8, 2017 @ 8:03 PM

3. William Bowling wrote:
oops he graduated in 61. My bad

Sun, December 10, 2017 @ 9:00 AM

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