Pink Floyd’s David Gilmour Composes a Soundtrack to Arthur C. Clarke’s Documentary Fractals: The Colors of Infinity

An observ­er once called the Man­del­brot Set “The Thumbprint of God,” the sim­ple equa­tion that led to the dis­cov­ery of frac­tal geog­ra­phy, chaos the­o­ry, and why games like No Man’s Sky even exist. In 1994, Arthur C. Clarke, writer of both sci­ence fic­tion and sci­ence fact, nar­rat­ed a one-hour doc­u­men­tary on the new math­e­mat­ics, called Frac­tals: The Col­ors of Infin­i­ty. If that sounds famil­iar, dear read­er, it’s because we’ve told you about it long ago. But it’s worth revis­it­ing, and it’s worth men­tion­ing that the sound­track was cre­at­ed by Pink Floyd’s David Gilmour.

To be hon­est, at first I wasn’t real­ly hear­ing that Floyd vibe, just some pleas­ant synth-strings you could find on any num­ber of doc­u­men­taries. But then Clarke explains the impli­ca­tion of the Man­del­brot equa­tion, end­ing it with “This real­ly is infin­i­ty.” And then Boom, the acid hit.

Or rather, the rain­bow com­put­er graph­ics of the end­less zoom hit, and it was unmis­tak­ably Gilmour—cue up 5:19 and be care­ful with that frac­tal, Eugene. This hap­pens again at 14:30, 25:12, 31:07, 35:46, 38:22, 43:22, 44:51, and 50:06 for those with an itchy scrub­bing fin­ger. But stick around for the whole doc, as the his­to­ry of how we got to the equa­tion, its prece­dents in nature and art, and the impli­ca­tions only hint­ed at in the pro­gram, all make for inter­est­ing view­ing.

The music will remind you in places of “Shine On Your Crazy Dia­mond”, “Obscured by Clouds,” and “On the Run.” When a DVD was released years lat­er, a spe­cial fea­ture iso­lat­ed just Gilmour’s music and the frac­tal ani­ma­tion.

Gilmour has con­tributed sound­track work to oth­er pro­grams. He has an uncred­it­ed per­for­mance on Guy Pratt’s sound­track from 1995’s Hack­ers; inci­den­tal music for 1992’s Ruby Takes a Trip with Ruby Wax; and a 1993 doc­u­men­tary on the arts and drug use called The Art of Trip­ping.

There are no offi­cial releas­es of this sound­track work, but one user has put up 16 min­utes of the Colours of Infin­i­ty music over at Sound­Cloud.


Relat­ed Con­tent:

David Gilmour, David Cros­by & Gra­ham Nash Per­form the Pink Floyd Clas­sic, “Shine on You Crazy Dia­mond” (2006)

Watch David Gilmour Play the Songs of Syd Bar­rett, with the Help of David Bowie & Richard Wright

Arthur C. Clarke Pre­dicts the Future in 1964 … And Kind of Nails It

Ted Mills is a free­lance writer on the arts who cur­rent­ly hosts the Notes from the Shed pod­cast and is the pro­duc­er of KCR­W’s Curi­ous Coast. You can also fol­low him on Twit­ter at @tedmills, and/or watch his films here.

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  • Orlando Carneiro says:

    Look up the evi­dence of what is Dark Energy,and how that the­o­rem relates to the the­o­rey E=MC2 from Einstein’s The­o­ry of Rel­a­tiv­i­ty, where as Dark Ener­gy is the rec­i­p­ro­cal theoeum of E=MC2, which means that evo­lu­tion ren­ders 110% of activ­i­ty as an eter­ni­ty from what was the the­o­ry of dor­man­cy and is now with us Liv­ing Trees.

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