The Aesthetics and Rationality of African Fractals

Visitors from America and Europe express their excitement at the sight of African woven and tiled designs, carved patterns, weaved or coiled baskets, woven handbags, pottery, brooms, beadworks, and even tattoos on skin. One might ask, ‘what is “African” about these objects?’ This project, using selected arts and artifacts from some West African countries, shows how the value of these souvenirs goes beyond the aesthetics but lies in the rationality behind their designs and how they project meanings and values that are deeply rooted in African culture.  Using the literary works of African scientists and artists like Paulus Gerdes, Ron Eglash, and Claudia Zaslavsky as theoretical framework, the project maintains that these traditional African designs are embodiment of geometrical patterns, calculation and theory, as well as frontiers in the fusion between African knowledge systems (mathematics in particular) and information technology. As a Digital Humanities project, we are exploring the possibility of enhancing these designs and fractals as part of Black Heritage. 

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