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Art + Science = Beauty

Former NCI employee Jonathan McCabe on his stunning science-inspired computer-aided designs.

“I remember seeing this article about the Mandelbrot set in Scientific American in 1985 and becoming really excited about computer graphics,” says Jonathan McCabe.

“I had started with simple plotter-based line graphics in the early 80s and ended up creating some more complex graphics and got addicted to it.”

McCabe’s new-found passion led him to study at the ANU Australian Center for the Arts and Technology. He then worked at NCI [formerly the ANU Supercomputer Facility] for about a decade, and currently works at the National Library helping with digital collecting.

In his spare time he creates beautiful, complex works of art which can be seen all over the world.

“Le Méridien hotel chain was shown some of my images by the curator of the contemporary art TV channel Souvenirs from Earth. They’ve since featured my work on the walls of their Munich, Kuala Lumpur and Mauritius hotels,” he says.

McCabe’s art also graces walls closer to home. Fittingly, a piece relating to Alan Turing’s Chemical Basis of Morphogenesis theory was commissioned for the ANU Centre for Advanced Microscopy.

“I’ve also done a few images based on models of neural networks and fluid flow simulations. I’m not sure if it’s art or science,” he says. “I guess it’s sciency art.”

McCabe says there’s something addictive about creating art with computer programming.

“It’s a bit like gambling – I just keep adjusting and tweaking the program to see what happens. There’s a lot of trial and error involved before I begin to understand what’s affecting what. It’s pretty cool to develop theories about how my own program works and hypotheses that I can test out.”  

View more of McCabe’s images at

This story first appeared in ANU Reporter.

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