Fractal Art – Stuck in Customs

Machine Elf 36 – Open Heart

Here’s the latest! Machine Elf 36 – Open Heart. I remember laying out in the white sands of the desert at Burning Man on my back in the middle of the afternoon, looking at the sun and blue sky. I was thinking about 1,000 different things and not thinking of them at the same time. Yes, I might have been on acid, but that’s beside the point. Well, not really, because, soon enough, I heard this song “Burning Sun” by Monolink playing about half a mile away from an art car… the sounds vibrated out the desert where I was hearing them… I remember what I saw and I’ve tried to recreate it here.

For more Machine Elf creations and to find out how to watch them in 360 VR, check out the website!

Best of: Austin!

And next up is the Best of Austin shots! Well, I’m not sure these are the absolute best, but there are few winners in here I haven’t thought about in a while.

trey-ratcliff-austin-photowalk (117 of 624)

The Wolfman Violinith Here’s my favorite photo from the Austin Photowalk … one of the many street performers howls into the streetlight moon… - Trey RatcliffClick here to read the rest of this post at the Stuck in Customs blog.

A Sunset on a Texas Farm This photo was shot about two hours outside of Austin in a little town called Brady.  You'd like it.  They have a Sonic there.  This was a 5-exposure HDR shot at f/16.  This kept everything in focus and kept the shutter open long enough to let the clouds drag across the sensor.  In these conditions, you don’t have a lot of time to fool around because the sun is bookin’ it towards the horizon.- Trey RatcliffClick here to read the rest of this post at the Stuck in Customs blog.

The State Capitol of Texas at Dusk I went down on Saturday evening to do some shooting around Austin and caught the capitol around sunset.  There are all kinds of interesting things about the Texas capitol, like this cool underground Illuminati chamber you can see here, but the one thing that all Texans seem to know is that our capitol is 14 feet taller than the one in D.C.  This is a source of pride for Texans, along with the cool and trivial fact that we maintain, in our state constitution, the right to secede from the Union.The capitol is made out of this pink granite, and it gets a little pinker at night at soon as they turn on the lights, especially against the blue sky.- Trey RatcliffClick here to read the rest of this post at the Stuck in Customs blog.

The Pennybacker Bridge This place is right by my house…. I really have no excuse for not going up here almost every night! It takes less than 10 minutes to drive and hike up here… sometimes I actually feel bad about my laziness in this area.It’s usually not too crowded up here. Maybe a couple or two will sit and watch the sunset. It’s a bit dangerous – a sharp cliff that drops off into the freeway on one side and the water on the other.- Trey RatcliffClick here to read the rest of this post at the Stuck in Customs blog.

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Welcome to Passport Sunday!

Today if you’re a Passport Member you’ll get to see a new behind-the-scenes video from one of my latest creations – enjoy!

Machine Elf 36 – Open Heart creation

Well, the whole creation is not finished yet, but you can at least see some of the important steps along the way! Oh, by the way, here is a link to the new Zach Bush video.

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Passport Sunday Fun!

Welcome to another fun Passport Sunday! If you’re one of our awesome Passport Members then you’re gonna get to see a special video today… It’s an extended interview about consciousness, healing, and how they are all related to the new Machine Elf videos. Speaking of those, here’s one of the first ones we released called Machine Elf 16 – Creator of Worlds. This is the 360 version!

Therapist Uncensored Video Version!

Thanks again to Sue Marriot at the Therapist Uncensored Podcast for this great interview… She sent over the video version so Stu was able to edit it together for you! 🙂

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Passport Sunday Preview

If you’re a Passport Member then today you’ll get to see one of the latest creations I’m working on for Machine Elf. Yes, yes, I’m still taking photos all the time and don’t see that stopping. Plus, I have some amazing stuff that I am super excited to share soon… However, I am really enjoying working on these fractals. I find them to be completely beautiful and mesmerizing. Below is a photo of the current combination of fractals I’m working on:
https://stuckincustoms.smugmug.com/Misc/Website-NonPort-Images/n-kG7LL/i-Ws33876/A

Machine Elf 37 – Preview

Fresh on the heels of Machine Elf 34, which we called Master Owl, we are now onto 37. I don’t have a name for it yet… I’m starting to combine various fractal equations which are quite GPU-intensive.

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Therapist Uncensored Podcast Interview

A new podcast interview on Therapist Uncensored… I think you’ll love it. Dr. Ann Kelley and Sue Marriott wrote quite a bit about the episode, but here’s the beginning of their synopsis: “Skeptical of the buzz about psychedelic-assisted therapy? What if you could get the benefits of therapeutic psychedelics without ingesting any drugs?! Trey Ratcliff may have just the answer to non-drug, mind-expanding experiences that can help us heal.

Check it out here

We’ve been interested in the resurgence of research but have been waiting a while to do an episode on psychedelic-informed therapies until we were confident about which we speak. 🙂 We are skeptical ourselves about something that is purported to be a panacea by some, but also very excited about the potential benefits the research seems to be pointing towards. Plus… anything consciousness-raising – official therapy or not – is a good thing. So, when Sue stumbled upon Trey Ratcliff’s Machine Elf creations we knew this was the way to begin the conversation with our audience.

In this concluding episode of Season 4, co-host Sue Marriott is joined by photographer, artist, and consciousnesses-raiser Trey Ratcliff. They dive right into the exotic world of mind-enhancing experiences. This includes both psychedelics but also non-drug experiences that can bring the promising results that are emerging from carefully studied psychedelic research.

Together they explore the history and effectiveness of drug-assisted therapy, address possible drawbacks, and attempt to explain what the mechanism is that can make these molecules so life-changing.”

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Writing on Creativity

I was invited to join a private group where we talk about creativity for 21 days in a row… Here was my submission for Day 14.

Creativity is in a bit of a weird space. I think social media can be a terrible influence on the mind a of a creative!

Once you actually figure out what you love creating, that is a great place! Finding your life’s purpose, which may be via creativity, is a huge step. Most people never discover it. They stop experimenting. But, once you find it, you want to share it! Social media makes that very engaging and life-affirming. But then, what happens often, is your creative niche becomes an identity that you have to keep feeding. What if you want to try something else? What if you have another new passion?

I went through this recently because I had a rather epic journey on DMT. I saw and felt the nature of reality in a completely new way. It was so beautiful, so I started making fractals. They were terrible at first, but now they’re getting pretty good! You can see some at https://the-machine-elf.com/ and a samples below:

Yes, I’m still taking photos and all that jazz… but I notice when I post these fractal animations that I think are quite beautiful, I get a lot of negative feedback. “Get back to taking photos!” blah blah blah… you know the type. It’s funny how people try to put you in a little box and when you step out of the box, it is as if you did it specifically to offend that person. People that actually have the time to leave extensive, destructive comments on the Internet probably don’t have much going on in their own lives. We can psychoanalyze those people forever, but why bother? One of my greatest skills is ignoring people.

I’m reminded of one of my favorite essays by Kevin Kelly called 1,000 True Fans (1,000 apologies if someone already mentioned that article at https://kk.org/thetechnium/1000-true-fans/ ). Basically, find whatever weird niche you’re into. It can be SO niche that none of your friends have ever even heard of it. When I started doing HDR photos, hardly anyone knew about it except for me and a handful of others. I didn’t care. I didn’t do it to become famous or whatever… I just loved it. And if you’re the kind of person that falls in love with ideas or anything, chances are you will do it many times in your life. The trajectory of your online branding may prevent you from trying new things, but don’t let it. Maybe, if you’re lucky, you’ll have many passions where you get those 1,000 true fans. I then fell in love with Burning Man and have been for the past 10 years in a row. I share those photos now which are pretty much a completely different genre than HDR landscape photos. You don’t need tens or hundreds or thousands or millions of fans (another lie that pervades on social media); you only need 1,000.

The genius behind the “1,000 true fans” idea is that it’s a way to combine the tricky world of $$money with creativity. These can be strange bedfellows… but your true fans will buy anything you put out there. If you can sell them $100 worth of your creations each year, that’s an easy $100,000. $150 per fan is $150,000. And, if you’re the kind of creative that has a minimalist life, that’s more than enough money. Even better, once you take care of all that financial stuff, it frees up your mind to be even more creative!

Good luck… and feel free to send that article to your friends. A wonderful secondary task of all creatives is to inspire other creatives… so get out there and do it, yo! 🙂 Love & Hugs, Trey

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Machine Elf 34 and a Fun Day at Pinterest

Machine Elf 34

Sam and I are excited to release our newest creation: Machine Elf 34: Master Owl.

The owl knows everything and is often the one who allows you to see it. Graced by the owls presence, Machine Elf 34 takes us on an unpredictable adventure that delves inside the alien mind to see what hides within. This is our most mathematically complex fractal so far and is a combination of the Xenodreambuie in a hybrid with Atan2Power 2. As with all the others, watch in full screen with the volume up and allow yourself to fall away into the world.

These are also available in 360 for a cool VR app called TRIPP. If you have an Oculus Quest, Go or Rift, you can download TRIPP which features guiding experiences to make you happier, calmer and more focused. Grab that here: https://the-machine-elf.com/TRIPP

For more Machine Elf creations, including physical installations, check out the website: https://the-machine-elf.com/

Made in the Mountains of Queenstown, New Zealand.

Fun Day at Pinterest

Here’s a fun trip down memory lane when I spent an entire day at the Pinterest HQ in San Francisco. This is just when they are getting started so everyone looks a bit younger! 🙂


Ben Silbermann, CEO of Pinterest, is just as nice of a guy as that smile would indicate...

One of the Pinterest employees works away, after seemingly emerging from a shampoo commercial.

This is what you see upon entrance to the Pinterest offices in the trendy SOMA area of San Francisco.

Ben Silberman is not only the CEO of Pinterest, but he's also a serious photographer.  Before we got down to the meat of our meeting, we spent about half an hour geeking out about photography equipment!

Chinese globes decorate the skyspace in the upper atmosphere of Pinterest...

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The Machine Elf

Passport Sunday

I think you’re gonna love today’s video if you’re a Passport Sunday member. I usually never release things before they are finished, but today you can see something new!

Check out Machine Elf on TRIPP

Head on over to TRIPP.com to see the latest Machine Elf releases on that site in VR!

Open Heart

Here’s an early look at Machine Elf 36. It’s not finished yet… you’ll notice it cuts off at an annoying time… sorry about that. Believe it or not, this render took about 6 days on Stu’s computer! That’s 6 days of 100% GPU use on pretty much the fastest graphics card available to consumers! Sorry about that, Stu.

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Daily Photo – The Machine Elf Website

Head on over to the inchoate site Machine Elf to see some of my newest creations. This has taken a small eternity to create, and I hope you love it!

The Machine Elf Website

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Floating over a seafront villa on Laucala Island

Machine Elf 25

This is the most mathematically complex fractal I’ve been working on for a few months. If you’re a math nerd, it’s a variant on the Menger Sponge but I ended up messing with the coefficients so much that you will only occasionally see the source pattern.

Last month, I did another hardcore version of the Menger with the short “Devs Cube (based on the Alex Garland show)” – which is a bit dark and unsettling. Most of my other weird Machine Elf creations have been more calm and meditative. Choosing (or creating) music is very difficult. For this one, I decided to use one of my favorite Jon Hopkins tracks. It’s quite glitchy and full-on, but it works more than enough for me. This song (Everything Connected) is from his latest album.

We’re in the middle of generating a 360 version of this now… so if you have a VR set, it’s quite a ride. Enjoy…

Daily Photo – Floating over a seafront villa on Laucala Island

When I was running around taking photos all over the island, they told me that this is where George Clooney stayed when he came. It’s a little hard to tell from this angle, but that pool is surrounded by this cool angled black basalt rock. It made the blue pop out even more.

Floating over a seafront villa on Laucala Island

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