30 March 2008

Triromation 2

Here are a couple more experiments with animating a Trirograph.



27 March 2008

Red Sea Stonefish

I was looking at some of my slides from my Red Sea diving trip many years ago and came across one of a stonefish. They are so well camouflaged that they are very hard to spot, especially if you have never seen one before. One of the divers on our trip spotted this one right below where our boat was anchored. It was so well camouflaged that even backing off a few feet to adjust my camera and strobes made it difficult to spot again to take pictures.

Red Sea Stonefish

Can you spot its eyes and mouth?

26 March 2008


Here is an animated Trirograph image. I made some mistakes in setting up the key frames, so it didn't turn out quite like I was intending. But, I found it kind of interesting.


Update: Here is a version that is more like I intended for the previous one.


22 March 2008


I am experimenting with animating a spirograph image. Here is a simple one.



Here is a variation on the one above.


19 March 2008

It's Sad, its So Sad; It's a Sad, Sad Situation

With apologies to Elton John...

If you are tired of discussions about OT, please skip this post.

Well, it didn't take long. It was just announced a couple of days ago that there will be a 2010 Fractal Universe Calendar. Of course, the children at OT just had to whine in again with just how "bad" this publishing venture is. I covered the topic at length in this post, so there is no need to go over all the idiocy about the complaints again. I'll just comment on a few of statements made in the latest childish rant.

Neither Tim nor I have ever argued that the FU editor(s) should not be compensated for services rendered. We have, however, questioned why compensation has to be including the artwork of the editor. When such rewards are given, especially in a competitive environment, propriety becomes suspect and issues of professionalism should be raised. Contrary to what our adversaries claim, such compensation is professionally frowned upon because questions of conflict of interest invariably come into play.
OT should just say what they believe, the calendar editor(s) are unethical and unprofessional because the agreement with the publisher give the editor(s) an image in the calendar as compensation for time and effort. They can hold this opinion, but people can see just how ridiculous it really is.

OT claims that such an agreement is professionally frowned upon. So what? This is an agreement with a publisher, and is clearly spelled out and has been for years. It isn't a professional contest. OT keeps making this false argument so they can continue complaining. They know the arrangement with the publisher isn't what they claim, a professionally run contest, but they continue to be disingenuous with the continuing rants. They are just repeating the false premise; if it is a contest, or similar to a contest, or resembles a contest, then it must conform to their view of a contest. This is the classic straw man fallacy; set up a false premise and shoot it down. It doesn't work.

OT should publish their own calendar, or make an arrangement with another publisher that fits their "view" of "professionalism".
Okaaay. So, why not just do this in the first place? Pay editors to make solicitations. Then you'll have a true publishing venture, and OT will never again question your operating methods. But, apparently, you're running a competitive process to generate material -- and doing solicitations, too? Will you publish a list showing which images were submitted and which were solicited? What is the percentage of solicited images included (say, in the last five years)?. Can FU Calendar editors (past or current) be among those artists who can be directly solicited? This whole bit sounds suspiciously like Damien M. Jones' BMFAC rationalization of needing "a hedge against insufficient quality."
Now this is rich. If the calendar editors force the publisher to change the agreement so that it meets OT's terms, OT will stop complaining? ROTFLMAO. If the entire list of submissions is published, I'd bet dollars to donuts that OT would complain about what was submitted, or question the selection criteria, or question why images were left out, or accuse the editor of favoritism, or something.

What is wrong with the current arrangement? Oh right, it isn't a triple blind submission process that conforms to somebody's "official rules of contest submissions". OT should set the example and cultivate an agreement with a publisher and show the world how a calendar submission process should be run. Of course, they won't. They aren't courageous enough to undertake such a venture. It's easier to complain.

Doesn't OT say just below that the publisher has the right to publish what they want? If so, why does OT want the editor to change the agreement with the publisher? It's the publisher's choice right? So, why constantly criticize the editor?

Perhaps the calendar editor could do all of these things. Why? For what purpose? To pacify OT? I'd encourage the editor to do nothing different if only to spite OT. All the fuss OT is making about the calendar just makes OT look silly, petty, etc.
Of course, Avalanche Publishing -- or any publishing firm -- is free to publish whatever fractal art it chooses. Then again, as artists, all of us have a stake in what is presented to the public as the contemporary face of fractal art. Do you feel the Fractal Universe Calendar's face in this regard needs a comprehensive facelift?
Well, if Avalanche Publishing has the right to publish whatever they want, then why all the fuss? Is it because OT doesn't like the images the publisher chooses? Perhaps a valid argument can be made here, but if the publisher has the right to publish what they choose, then complaints are just silly.

If OT believes everyone has a stake in what is presented to the public, then they should be proactive and create outlets to present alternative views of fractal art to the public. However, their latest attacks on the calendar just prove that their calls for people to do that in a previous post are just empty rhetoric. It's always easier to criticize and complain than actually do something.

are taking the brave step. This individual even managed to get a calendar publisher to publish her calendar. These are just two examples from a 30 second search. Are these individuals doing irreparable damage to the fractal community with their efforts? Are they unprofessional? Of course not, neither is the Fractal Universe calendar effort.

Does the calendar need a face lift? No, what needs the face lift is OT.

Amazing Photographs

I stumbled across some rather amazing photographs.

These were done from about 1915 to 1920. You can find more details about the Statue of Liberty image here. Snopes.com has some additional statistics on this image here.

You can see modern versions using the same tricks of perspective in the chalk drawings of Julian Beever.

14 March 2008

Photos in Fractals

Photographs in fractals is a technique that can be fun to play with. I'm not sure who first had or implemented the idea. I first played with the technique when Kerry posted a couple of images that he did to a mailing list several years ago. He published a article describing his method. His technique involved creating an image using a carefully designed gradient that allowed an external program to map an image onto the generated fractal using the colors in the fractal as coordinates of the image. This provided the ability to generate an image suitable for printing at a large size.

I used this technique to overlay a picture of one of my kids onto the fractal. The shape of the fractal is shown in this image,

This technique is a bit limiting because you have to have an external program to overlay the image onto the fractal. Kerry wrote one for his use. I wrote one that I used. But, as far as I know, there is no publicly available program for general use.

Another technique is to take an image and convert it into a coloring formula for Ultra Fractal. Two such program exist. One is Sprite, and the other is BringItIn. Both will take an image and create a coloring formula. BringItIn provides some basic convolution filters and some other options that Sprite does not. I'll leave to you to experiment to figure out which one works best for you.

The biggest drawback of this technique is that the size of images that can be converted into a coloring formula is limited to fairly small images. This is due to the size of data arrays that must be created to hold the image data. Ultra Fractal just can't deal with the large arrays needed to hold the image data for a large image. The obvious solution is to provide a native capability within Ultra Fractal for using images in coloring formulas. Hopefully, a future version will include this capability.

Here are a couple of images using Sprite.

The clownfish is from a photograph that I took during a diving trip to the Red Sea many years ago. It's always been one of my favorites.

This image and this one are examples of very nice images using BringItIn, if I recall correctly. One of the best images that I've seen created using this technique is this one.

Edit: There are several examples of using Sprite here.

There is a stand alone fractal program that was specifically designed to use images as colorings. It is wmPHoto. I have not experimented much with this program.

12 March 2008

Troll Extrordinaire

I seem to have touched a nerve at Orbit Trap (hereafter referred to as OT). I'm honored to have the writers of OT make up about 25% of my current readership numbers. LOL!

Warning: If anyone reading this is tired of the ongoing discussions at OT and my replying to them here, please skip this post. This post is going to dissect the latest post made at OT, and detail the many exaggerations, distortions, and IMO, outright lies. I am going to give my opinions. I am going to speak bluntly. I will not lie. I have no need to. If I make any mistakes, or you disagree with my opinions, you are encouraged to correct me. I guarantee you will be treated better than OT treats those who comment critical of them.

So, lets dive in. But, be forewarned, this post is long.

"Another paradigm shift: trolls are hecklers. They aren’t satisfied with the nearly infinite opportunities on the Internet to build their own spaces and places and express their views. They’d rather steal our voice and burn down our house."
No one has ever tried to "steal" OT's voice. All people have done is voice opposition to the charges and tactics of what the OT writer's have written. In the words of OT, the comments are critiquing or talking about something. In this case, that something is what OT wrote. That, after all, is what OT says they are doing. I guess that is okay for OT, but not for OT. I call that hypocritical.

Not one of the people who have commented to OT have tried to "burn down [their] house". Everyone who has commented, pro or con, has done so via the mechanisms in place at the time. First with unmoderated comments, and later with moderated, censored comments. This claim is nothing more that petty complaining.

What is wrong with commenting directly to the posts that you take issue with? That's what the comment mechanism is for. If the writer doesn't want comments, turn it off or moderate comments as OT has done. What is the purpose for making controversial posts, and then proceeding to complain about comments? That is simply childish. For goodness sakes, if you are going to be critical in what you write, don't complain when you receive comments from those who take exception to what you wrote. If you are brave enough to be controversial, be brave enough to receive critical comments in return. To not do so and complain about how you are being treated is unprofessional at best, and down right hypocritical at worst.
"Anyone who starts a blog, especially one functioning in part as a whistleblower, is eventually going to have to deal with trolls. You can be amused by them. You can shrug your shoulders and endure them. You can elect not to “feed” them. You can delete them and move on. Here on Orbit Trap, Tim and I have been through the entire evolutionary cycle, and now we’ve entered the last phase."
If a troll is one who disagrees with OT, then I guess we have a new definition. What this really means is that OT is right in what they have to say and you are a troll if you disagree. They are going to ignore disagreeing comments and delete them. They are not going to deal with being challenged. That is their right, but lets call this attitude it for what it is, cowardice.

I'm wondering why OT seems to think it reasonable for them to repeatedly write posts regurgitating the same accusations about the FU calendar and BMFAC and not expect continued comments challenging their claims. Perhaps they should consider not "feeding" by ceasing their charges of ethical breaches or how "unprofessional" these events are. It really is time to get over it.

The repetition at OT reminds me of the Serenity Prayer,
God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.
No matter how bad OT thinks some things are, they are not are going to change because OT keeps complaining about them. The calendar is one of them. Changes may or may not occur with future BMFAC exhibitions/contests. In any case, OT certainly appears to be short on wisdom.
"Let’s start with the obvious. We are as much members of the “fractal community” as anyone else. We, too, have the right of free speech. This is our blog. We write it. We do not automatically owe anyone who shows up an audience with “Orbit Trap.” We do not have to hold a courtroom in our comments section to validate or justify our right to speak out. We do not have to repeat the rhetorical chain of our arguments -- on demand and ad infinitum -- to people who have never bothered to attentively read what we wrote in the first place."
I actually agree with this. I never have, and have never seen, anyone say the OT writers were not members of the "fractal community". Of course they have the right to post what they choose to post. They don't have to publish comments, nor respond to any. They don't even have to support their claims. In fact, their claims are routinely unsupported. In my case, I have read what they wrote. I actually read it multiple times before I reply. I contend, based on what OT is writing, that they don't read what I write. They don't have to, but if they address me, even indirectly, they have the responsibility to be accurate in what they claim I have said. If they say I, or anyone else, accuses them of violating our free speech rights, they have the obligation to produce the quote to back up their charge.

In reality, what OT is really saying is, if you don't agree with them, you aren't attentively reading what they wrote.
"But, even as I type this post, I know our adversaries are firing up their keyboards to tell you (at great length) how we are cowards who have abridged their free speech. Just remember -- they are hecklers."
Here is where the lies start. No one, let alone I, have ever said or implied that anyone's (or my) freedom of speech has been abridged. Readers of this should note that OT's critics are rarely quoted, except to show that OT is being mistreated, and are often quoted out of context or incorrectly giving a false impression. They won't quote any comments supporting this lie because there aren't any.

Yes, I have said their attitude is cowardly, because I believe it is. That is my opinion, and I give detailed reasons why. Readers should note that I give details to support my position; OT gives few and none to support the "free speech" charges. Have you ever seen them produce a quote where anyone has claimed or implied that OT has abridged anyone's freedom of speech? You won't because they don't exist, yet OT continually makes this charge. Why won't they be honest?

Lets be clear, if a blog has comments enabled, then the implication is that comments are invited or are welcome. That makes the "heckler" claim bogus from the start.

Length is irrelevant. Many of the OT posts are quite lengthy. The quality and accuracy of the content is what is important.
"Hecklers, by their actions, violate the free speech of others. Is that not true? When you are attending an event, whether or not an admission was charged, do you enjoy having the occasion interrupted by a heckler? Are you upset, or even raise your own voice in protest, when the heckler is removed by security? Why not? Could it be because the environment of that particular event wasn’t the heckler’s space or place?"
Now OT is claiming their freedom of speech is being violated? This is another lie. People don't violate anyone's freedom of speech. Only the government can do that. Heckler's don't. Trolls don't. Individuals don't. Blogs don't. If OT doesn't like the kind of feedback their posts are generating, they have the freedom to cut off or censor the feedback. That is their right. It's their blog, they can control how it is run. No one has ever said otherwise, including me. I started writing here because they didn't want to read my comments. That is my right. Now, I'm referred to as a heckler, even when I can't respond directly to them. This is just more childish complaining.

I'm not even sure the OT authors even know the definition of a heckler. As Toby points out in a comment to another post, hecklers shout uninvited comments at an event. As I said above, if comments are enabled, then comments are invited. IOW, OT has invited, even encouraged comments. But, apparently, they are only welcome now if they support OT.

Hecklers at events do have a right to shout their statements. But, the organizers of such events also have the right to remove the hecklers. This much is agreed. But, to further illustrate the absurdity of this analogy, how do any comments drown out what OT is saying in their posts? How do comments interrupt what OT is saying? Is a blog an event? I'm tempted to say this is overly something, but I'll resist.
"Orbit Trap is our space. It’s like our auditorium. We built the space, made a stage, provided a microphone and sound system, and opened the doors for an audience. We assume visitors show up because they want to hear what we have to say. I know I tend to visit blogs I enjoy reading and usually shun those that raise my blood pressure. When a heckler turns up in our space, we might choose to initially engage him or her for the sake of discussion. But if no discourse develops, eventually, for the sake of our audience, we usher the heckler outside."
This is true, except the heckler part. People read OT because they want to read what they have to say, including me. What is different, is that OT doesn't want to hear what others have to say about what OT writes. That is hypocritical. It's their right, but it is hypocritical. I started writing here because I want to exercise my right to disagree with OT. If people read what I write, great.

I've admitted multiple times that OT has some valid issues with the BMFAC. OT won't even admit that their critics raise valid points. That doesn't mean they agree with them, but intellectually honest people can admit when someone else raises a valid point.
"Orbit Trap is also our place. This blog is like our home. We get to specify what kind of behavior we will tolerate in our home. Would you invite a heckler into your home -- to scream in your face, insult you, mock you, or dress you down in a smug and condescending fashion? No. You’d ask the heckler to leave, and if the heckler refused, you’d have her or him removed from your home."
Again, if comments are allowed, comments should be expected. OT has the right to determine what comments are acceptable. Comments can be polite or impolite, they can agree or disagree with OT, they can be complimentary or insulting, they can be sarcastic and condescending. OT can determine what to allow and what not to allow. But, it is important to point out that none, IMO, none of the comments OT has ever published have been any worse than the OT posts. OT posts have been insulting, mocking, smug, misleading, condescending, accusing, sarcastic, satirical, disingenuous, etc. Is it unexpected to receive comments that mirror the posts? Isn't it hypocritical to exhibit all these traits in your posts and then complain when you get feedback that mirrors your posts?

What is the point about the constant complaining about others and how they treat you? This is not addressing points raised by their critics. OT is not supporting their own claims or refuting the comments. OT is doing nothing but complaining about how they are being treated. IOW, OT is just whining like a five year old that can't have another cookie for dessert. Whistleblowers are supposed to be a little more brave than this. This is just another example of hypocrisy on their part. They can criticize and raise charges of ethics, but not be challenged.
"A heckler does have free speech rights -- but the exercise of such does not have to be tolerated in your spaces and places. By removing the heckler, have you denied him or her all free speech rights? No, you merely said my space and place are off limits. The heckler is free to rent a hall, furnish it with a stage, plug a mike into a sound system, and have at it. Say anything. 24 hours a day every day. And maybe an audience will even show up."
Here we are again with the lies about denying free speech rights. I'd like OT to set the record straight and produce any comments from their critics about claims of free speech rights being denied by OT's censoring of comments. I believe they are lying about this to try to bolster their case. I've never stated or implied this in any of my comments. Perhaps someone did in a comment that was never published. OT should either back this up, or retract and apologize for the lie. Intellectually honest people will admit when they are wrong and apologize when appropriate.
"The Internet provides nearly endless opportunities for hecklers to find their own spaces and places -- including some devoted exclusively to fractal art. And, if hecklers want a more personalized home, there’s always Blogger. Hecklers can create their own blogs in less than five minutes. Some of our adversaries have already done so, even as they slap up posts about how we denied them freedom of speech."
Hmmmm. Didn't OT claim once that one individual own nearly 40% of the web space available for fractal art? Kind of contradictory given the "endless opportunities" comment, eh?

Yup, I did exactly this; I started this blog. But, here's the lie again. There is not a single post here about how OT has denied my freedom of speech. I've said many times they have the right to do what they have done. They have the right to be as hypocritical as they choose. This blog exists, in part, to provide a voice to counter the charges, tactics, and lies of OT. If I have claimed OT has violated my freedom speech, they should provide the quote or link to it. But, I know OT doesn't want to give me free publicity, which is why, IMO, they won't link here. They are afraid their legions of "silent" readers will see a reasoned counterpoint to their grand whistleblowing mission.

I have detailed the exact exchange that occurred when OT changed their comment policy. Never once in that exchange did I allege OT did anything they were not entitled to do. I only said it was cowardly and hypocritical, which I believe it is. In fact, OT has even lied about my comments that they never published. Readers can read the detail in my second post on this blog.

Readers can tell me if I'm wrong. Readers can tell me when they disagree with my opinions. Readers can do exactly what I and others have done to OT, comment on their posts. But, here they won't be censored as a matter of practice. Unlike OT, I welcome comments that offer a differing opinion.
"Things might have been different if our hecklers hadn’t been hecklers. For proof, please review the archives. It’s clear that those who challenged us didn’t come to OT to discuss or debate. We know our claims are controversial and aren’t averse to having critics. But our hecklers don't want you to hear what we have to say. Their purpose is to shout us down through intimidation while diverting your attention. They hope, by putting up enough white noise, that you will be unable to see the big picture. They imagine you will be easily manipulated by such tactics. They are imperious but fear exposure. The status quo privileges them, and they want nothing to curtail the creature comfort perks of their self-selected fiefdom. So they storm our castle with bluster because we threaten to tear down the walls of theirs."
Please do read the archives at OT. It is important to see the progression of charges, justifications, and self delusions. OT's challengers have been specific, reasoned, and generally as polite as the OT writers have been. Toby has been quite polite in his comments to OT, yet OT has seen fit to ridicule and mock him. Quite professional, eh?

Readers should note where the diversion really lies. Why all the OT posts on their critics? Could it be if they ridicule their critics sufficiently readers will be diverted from the substance of the critics' arguments? Do the critics complain ad nauseam about how they are treated by OT? Read the record for yourself, but I believe you will find that the answer is a resounding no?

Where has OT been intimidated? Is this idiotic charge because one of the OT authors was removed from a web host by the person the OT authors has deemed unethical and self-serving and all-controlling of the fractal art community? Whether or not the actions were justified in this case, is that intimidation? Regardless, the OT authors keep saying there are intimidation tactics going on. What are they? If they exist, then they can be specified. If they aren't specified, then I claim this is just another lied being perpetuated by OT.

OT routinely makes claims and charges without providing any justification or substantiation. Absurd claims are made and when challenged by comments, OT whines about attacks, whines about trolls or stooges, whines about being treated poorly, etc. Wouldn't a troll be more accurately described as one who makes charges without substantiation? Wouldn't that description be more applicable to OT than to any who has responded to OT?

How am I or Toby or any other critic of OT privileged by the status quo? How do we benefit from this mythical "fiefdom"?

White noise? Read any post at OT regarding the Fractal Universe calendar. Talk about white noise. Good grief, talk about much ado about nothing. How is it possible, given the blog structure, to prevent OT from saying anything?

If I fear exposure, why did I comment? If I fear exposure, why did I create a blog so that I could voice my comments?
"OT has no army, but we do have an audience. The “silent readers” Tim mentions are no myth. I know you’re out there. I can see you on OT’s daily stats. I understand why you don’t comment here. After witnessing our open house reception, who in their right mind would want such bile and grief to pervade their lives? It’s enough that you listen to what we’ve said and make up your own minds. We’ve laid out our case. You’ve heard what our adversaries have said and witnessed their methods. Weigh their tone. Reach your own conclusions."
I have silent readers too, perhaps four. LOL! OT won't link here because their readers will have a direct link to reasoned, truthful, counterpoints to the OT posts. No problem. The record exists and people will eventually find it. I don't understand why more people won't comment, pro or con. None of the people who have commented at OT have ever been attacked by anyone other than the OT authors themselves. I posit that people are afraid to comment critical of OT because they will be censored and attacked and mocked and lied about as Toby and I have.

Do exactly what the OT author requests. Read their posts. Evaluate their tone. Evaluate their methods. Evaluate their evidence. Then, compare to what you read here and decide. Please comment here if you agree, disagree, or want to add something that needs to be added. As long as you are civil, your comments will be considered.

I do wish people would comment more at OT. OT believes silence is agreement. Personally, I don't believe it is. I guess people are just simply afraid of the "monopoly". They must be afraid of the intimidating tactics employed by us "stooges". They must be afraid they will forever be at a disadvantage and at the mercy of the "all controlling clique".
"And if you think we are right, then shift your private paradigm. Once you understand our fractal emperors have no clothes, you can’t screen out their lack of royal robes. There’s no going back to the old feudal system where they hold court and toss bread crumbs out the window of their passing carriage. You don’t need to become a whistleblower yourself. That Pandora’s Box has already been ripped open. You just have to understand what’s really going on. Knowledge is enough to begin a course change. Maybe you’ll talk among your friends. Maybe you’ll set up your own spaces and places. Maybe you’ll start your own Fractalus-like collectives with like-minded peers. Or add guest galleries to your site. Or build your own fractal art contests -- no matter how small scale at first. Or maybe you’ll boycott the existing contests until they are run fairly and professionally."
Actually, myself and others have advocated just that; taking action to create new outlets for your art. It has been mentioned in comments to OT posts, and it has been mentioned in posts here. Until now, OT never has suggested this. OT has only wanted to destroy those events they don't agree with how they are being run. Their attitude has been, if a contest/exhibition/calendar isn't run according to their vision of "professionalism", then it is better that it not exist. It's nice to see them come around to my (and other critic's) point of view, but it's a little hypocritical to promote it now. In fact, OT had previously resisted these suggestions. They replied something along the lines of "why should I start my own". Regardless, I suppose it should be considered a tiny step in the right direction. Time will tell if they actually continue in that positive direction or continue to play the whining game that has continued for some time now.
"Don’t let a small non-juried clique, selecting themselves as “the most important fractal artists in the world,” control an art movement that also belongs just as much to you and me and all of us. Take it back -- using baby steps, if necessary -- but begin to take it back."
Just how does the "clique" control an art movement? Stating the claim doesn't make it fact. Yes, I know the BMFAC and FU calendars. Be serious, do these two events constitute control? Who is being controlled and how are they being controlled. Specifics are needed here, not vague, all encompassing allegations. OT is big on allegations, but short on substantiation. But, you are a "heckler" or a "stooge" or a "troll" if you challenge OT and actually try to get them to provide substantiation for their claims.

Does it really matter if a group is labeled, or labels themselves as "the most important fractal artists in the world"? Perhaps that comes across as arrogant, and perhaps it is. How does that negatively affect anyone? Is your art now ignored because you are not lumped in with that group? Are any venues for displaying your art closed off?

Perhaps I should charge OT with plagiarism because my "What Now?" post advocates exactly this; taking action to create other outlets. I am honored that OT is now on board with this idea. But, I consider it hypocritical to try to claim this as an original idea in these discussions, when they originally rejected such ideas when suggested to them in comments.
"Don’t let the prima donna trolls lying in wait under the bridge prevent you from crossing any longer."
Lies, damn lies, and statistics is what comes to mind here. We "trolls" or "stooges" or "hecklers" have never tried to prevent anyone from doing anything. We are not trying to destroy others. We are not trying to stop publication of calendars, or stop people from holding an exhibition/contest. We are pointing out were OT is wrong, in their attacks on events and others. We are pointing out the utter silliness of their constant whining about how they are treated and showing the hypocrisy when you compare their very own actions to the actions they complain about. We are encouraging others to take positive action to create new outlets for fractal art. We are encouraging others to take positive steps to correct things they think need to be corrected. We are taking OT to task for their unfounded, unwarranted, unethical, and unprofessional tactics in their "whistleblowing".

11 March 2008


I interrupt your regularly scheduled commentary post for some spirograph images. Not necessarily great art, but still fun.

10 March 2008

The Face of Fractal Art

What is the face of fractal art?

Is it online communities such as Renderosity or DeviantArt or some other venue that I'm not familiar with?

Is it web sites run by individuals, some who host galleries for other artists?

Is it a calendar?

Is it a contest?

Is it one or more of the myriad blogs and/or forum sites where people write about and/or post images generated with fractal programs?

Is it one of the many mailing lists that cater to specific programs?

Is it one of numerous private mailings lists that are set up for smaller groups of people?

Is is any particular program?

It has been alleged recently that the "official" face is a "clique" who use their "official" status for self-promotion.

Where did this status come from? Who gave it to this "clique"? Did they steal it from someone else? If so, who did they steal it from?

The allegation is that it is this status gains them opportunities that their art could never have gained them without this status.

The implication is that the art produced by this "clique" is somehow bad or sub-standard. Is the art created by this "clique" worst than the art created by the person making the charge? If so, in what ways?

Has anyone ever been intimated by this "clique"? Who? When? How? (Note: The case of the individual being booted from a web site doesn't count.)

Isn't it more likely that the face of fractal art, officially or unofficially, is the impression than every fractal artist gives to those they come in contact with?

06 March 2008


Hold the phone!! The fractal art world is being monopolized.

Well, at least that is what is being alleged by a self appointed, and self important, whistleblower. Okay, monopolies are generally considered a bad thing. So, lets look a little deeper and find out how serious the situation really is.

"In the fractal art world however, control over contests, calendars and just about everything else has become monopolized. The "official" face of fractal art is nothing more than a clique who use that "official" status as an opportunity to promote themselves -- an opportunity which they could never have gained on the artistic merits of their work alone. The monopoly is maintained by the intimidating influence felt by anyone else who wants to gain recognition in an art form which the clique claims to represent and whose most publicly visible examples they administer as their private fiefdom."
Wow, this sounds quite serious. We can't have this. It isn't fair. It's wrong. It's discriminatory. Something has to be done. But, wait...

I think the writer is talking about the Fractal Universe calendar. Does one calendar a monopoly make? Is it a monopoly because the writer has never had an image selected for the calendar? Has the writer ever submitted an image for consideration for the calendar? Is it a monopoly because the calendar publisher (you know, the people putting money at risk for the calendar) made a deal with a couple of people to be editors that guarantees them at least one image in the calendar? Has the writer ever considered publishing his own calendar? Oh, I forgot, the monopoly is not allowing him to do that.

I bet the writer is also talking about the Benoit Mandelbrot Fractal Art Contest (BMFAC). Oh yes, I've heard about that one. That must be the one where invited judges absconded with nearly 40% of the wall space in that exhibition that took place last summer in Spain. I think the organizer of that event invited the judges. I'm sure he was part of the monopoly as well. The sponsors probably were to. Those people with the money at risk really do control things. I guess this really is bigger than I thought. It's not just a monopoly, it's an international conspiracy.

Hmmmm. Did the writer submit any images for consideration for that exhibition? I'm sure he thought about it, but decided against it because of the monopoly that was rigged against him from the start. Or, perhaps it was because only Ultra Fractal images were selected. But, wait, there were several non-UF images selected so that must not be it. Ah, he must have been intimidated and was scared to enter images.

I hope the writer will find the time to detail "just about everything else" that is being monopolized. I'd really like to know what else is being controlled. I hate monopolies as much as the writer, so we need to be informed so we can take action. Oh, I forgot, he's probably referring to the 40% of available web space that a single individual has control over. If that is the case, it is indeed serious. 40% is too much for one person. Perhaps we can restrict him to at most 5%. But wait, how do we even determine the percent of web space one controls?

I do sense some irony in the assertion, "an opportunity which they could never have gained on the artistic merits of their work alone". How does the writer know this? Is this just a swipe at the "clique"? Is it jealousy? Envy? Is the writer comparing his works of "art" to those of the "clique"? Interesting questions, methinks.
Someone has to be the one to blow the whistle on all this if there is going to be any hope of changing the perception and attitudes amongst people in the fractal art world who, if they had knowledge of these things, could easily act to change the way things are run.
Boy, I'm glad someone has finally seen fit to do this. Maybe there is hope after all. I hope the writer will let everyone know if he is intimidated or in any way prevented from publishing his own calendar or entering into a venture with others to publish a calendar.

I also hope that he will let everyone know if he, or anyone else, is prevented from organizing and conducting a contest. It is a terrible thing to have a monopoly that only allows a single contest or a single calendar to exist. Someone must take action and try to break this monopoly. Perhaps there is a congressman somewhere that can take up this cause and conduct a special congressional hearing to determine how far this monopoly extends.

I just had a grand idea. Perhaps a congressman could create a special earmark so that a contest can be held for images generated with any program or method except Ultra Fractal. We'll just consider it affirmative action for underprivileged fractal programs. Maybe we can start an organization called the National Association for the Advancement of Underprivileged Fractal Programs (NAAUFP). Discrimination must be corrected. My apologies to the NAACP for a humorous take on their organization.
Criticizing judges and editors for their conflicts of interest clearly leaves one open to retaliation via those very same conflicts of interest that one is attempting to expose. Few are willing to suffer the consequences of challenging the same authorities who have both the power to correct themselves and the power to punish those who are challenging them -- no one except a whistleblower.
I'm going to call my congressman and see if I can get some federal protection for our whistleblowers. Perhaps we can get them into the witness protection program. Then, they can be protected from more retaliation by the monopoly and any "stooges" sent by the monopoly.
So, my only comment to the Kens and Tobys (and the next Stooge to be sent from our adversaries) who show up to defend the status quo of the fractal world is this: Leave it to the many silent readers of Orbit Trap to judge the merits of what we say and come to their own conclusions. If you really feel our whistleblowing is a false alarm, then present your objections in your very own venue in infinite length and in total freedom. Then the audience can freely choose if they care to listen to you.
Toby and I are only two. We need another and we can be the three stooges. Anyone want to be part of this exclusive club? BTW, Toby, do you have a copy of the "Stooge Rules of Conduct" given to us by the monopoly when they sent us on this mission? I've misplaced mine, and I think it might be needed to protect ourselves when the monopoly is taken down.

A note to anyone who is humor or sarcastically impaired...the above is meant entirely as humor with plenty of sarcasm tossed in. While there is much truth in what I wrote, it is meant as humor. The referenced post is probably the funniest thing I've read in months. The entire premise is so absurd, that (to quote myself) it is "overly stupid".

I'm exercising my freedom by this post. Hopefully, the monopoly won't seek retaliation on me.

To be serious for a moment...

I'd like to have lots of readers read this. But, I know many people have tuned out, and I understand that reaction. But, since I disagreed with some of the accusations made by the whistleblowers and the way they voiced their concerns, I decided to speak out. I'm also writing because I find it an amusing diversion from other issues. The whistleblowers can ridicule me if they choose. In the totality of life, all this is really insignificant.

Regardless, I know my position on these issues is more truthful and reasonable than that of the whistleblowers. Truth and reason are powerful things when you have them on your side. The number of "silent" readers who don't say anything publicly isn't relevant. Sure, it's nice to have support via private email, but those emails are meaningless in public discussions. Perhaps if enough of them speak up, they can work together to break the "monopoly".

I welcome opinions to what I write. Sure, it's nice to have people agree, but you learn more from those who have differing opinions. People are free to disagree with me all they wish in comments, or in other venues. Agreement isn't really the point. Clarity and understanding of different points of view is important. I don't have the power to retaliate against anyone that might disagree with me. After all, I'm just a "stooge" sent by the monopoly.

I fail to understand why the whistleblowers are so averse to receiving comments that differ. The hostility towards those who have spoken out in opposition to the whistleblowers is really quite puzzling. After all, aren't those choosing to speak out, even in opposition, just as "brave" as the whistleblowers. Let's be honest, us "stooges" are just as much a target of the whistleblowers as the whistleblowers claim they are of the mythical monopoly. Even more so, when you consider how the two of us "stooges" are now censored from commenting directly to the whistleblowers. Come to think of it, I guess I should start posting complaining about how I'm being treated by the whistleblowers; they called me a "stooge". They didn't say my comments were "stoogish", they called me a "stooge".

Anyone can publish a calendar. Anyone can organize and run a contest. To organize an exhibition to publicly display art is a more difficult task. But, I know of people who have had individual exhibitions. So, it is possible.

Is this whole whistleblowing exercise a false alarm? No, in the case of the BMFAC, not entirely. There are things that can be done to improve that event if it continues in the future. But, it is no where near the serious issue the "whistleblowers" make it out to be. Let's be honest here. The main complainants have personal issues with the main person coordinating the event. That's really the root of the issue, IMO. The other main root cause is that the "contest" doesn't conform exactly to some organization's strict list of rules. Perhaps this is a valid position to take, but I think most reasonable people see the absurdity in that viewpoint.

But, look at it another way. Lets say that I make an arrangement to have an exhibit at a local art gallery, or convention center for a public display of fractal art. Lets even say that there is a mathematical event going on at the same time at or near the same location as the exhibit. Lets say that I'm a sponsor of the exhibit and am contributing funds to cover the costs of the exhibition. Now, assume that I want to display a variety of images that show the diversity of fractal art possible. So, I contact some people I know whose art I like and ask them to contribute an image for the exhibit. But, I also want more images to include in the exhibit. I could just pick other images for inclusion, but I think it might be fun for people to be able to submit images that might be selected. So, I ask the group I contacted previously if they would be willing to select images for me. I don't really have the time. But, I will bear the cost of printing and framing the prints for the selected images. So, images are solicited and selected.

Is this scenario really so horrible? Is it detrimental to anyone who doesn't have an image selected? Is there some horrible breach of ethics or professionalism? Since I'm paying the expenses, isn't it my right to solicit images any way I choose? Am I controlling what any one else chooses to do in any way? Am I punishing anyone? Am I preventing any other exhibition in any way? Is is wrong to complain about what I did? No, but it is wrong to accuse me of "ethical breaches" and being "unprofessional".

In the case of the calendar, no, there is no issue here. Just a wrong-headed opinion that this commercial venture must conform to some group's strict rules of contest holding.

I'll note that the writer of this whistleblowing piece is one who likes to throw out general charges without ever offering any substantiation. No examples, no proof. Just unfounded charges. For example, in the first paragraph quoted above, "just about everything else has become monopolized". What else is monopolized? Of course, there is nothing else monopolized, because nothing is monopolized.

Lets be serious here, the impact of fractal, digital, or algorithmic art on the art world, or world in general, is insignificant. It will grow over time, just as any other art form. I think most people can see just how silly the contention that one calendar, and one contest, and one small group of judges for that one contest are all powerful, all controlling, all vindictive, and destroying the ability for others to prosper in their own rights and own venues really is. Isn't that premise "overly stupid"?

I'd also like to know specific examples of the intimidation referenced in "the intimidating influence felt by anyone else who wants to gain recognition in an art form which the clique claims to represent and whose most publicly visible examples they administer as their private fiefdom". If they have really occurred, they should be able to be listed.

Is the writer referring to his partner in whistleblowing being expelled from a particular web host by a particular person? If so, I can understand being angry at that event, but is that the motivation for all this ranting? Who else is, or has been, intimidated? In most cases, these would be considered serious charges, and would require proof. However, in this case, the writer is just venting anger, IMO, so I don't take him seriously.

However, I believe the writer is serious, which just makes the entire episode all the more pathetic.

There have been some heated emotions and exchanges and a few remarks short on civility on these topics over the last several months from differing points of view. If you aren't enjoying what you are creating, then why do it? If your goal is gaining recognition for your art, then perhaps you need to reevaluate your motives. I'm not the greatest artist by any stretch of my imagination, but I enjoy creating those things I create. It doesn't matter in the least what anyone else thinks of what I create. Nor, does it matter what I think of anyone else's art. Create for the joy of creating. If you end up being recognized, then that is just a bonus. It's a great thrill to have image(s) selected for the Fractal Universe calendar. I know, I've had that privilege. But, it's not the end of the world when you don't have images selected. I've been there too. I take the position that exposure to the public for fractal, algorithmic, or digital art (whatever you want to call it) is a good thing, even if the mechanisms for getting the public exposure have flaws.

I said it in a previous post, but it bears repeating. If you don't like what you see, then take action and create new outlets and venues for your art and the art of others that you like. Quit whining about others and mythical conspiracies and do something. Set the example and create and publish calendars or books according to the standards and practices you think are the most "ethical" or "professional". Create "professionally" run contests, or support and promote contests that live up to your standards. Rather than be destructive, be constructive and do something you see as positive. You will benefit and so will everyone else. Contrary to the charge by the whistleblower, I'm not trying to keep the status quo, I'm encouraging people to take action to change the status quo in a positive, not destructive way.

05 March 2008

Overly Stupid?

I don't mind being quoted, but I prefer to be quoted correctly. In a recent exchange with Toby, a reference was made to me by one of the Orbit Trap authors stating that I called them "overly stupid". Well, that's not quite correct.

The comment being referred to was made in response the the post, "Damien, Inc". In my comment, I made the following statement. The bold is the text from the post that I quoted.

But it's another thing to buy up 40% (or more?) of the web space used to present fractal art galleries, software, and contests.

Are you really serious? This is overly stupid, even for you. Last I could tell, anyone can get web space to put up galleries, offer software, host contests, blog, etc.

The complete context of what I was commenting on was this,

It's one thing to suck up 40% of the wall space for an exhibition -- as the judges for this year's BMFAC did lately. But it's another thing to buy up 40% (or more?) of the web space used to present fractal art galleries, software, and contests.

And, yet, that is exactly what Damien M. Jones has done.

I think it obvious to most who understand the English language that my "overly stupid" references the quoted statement by the author. The comment was overly stupid. I don't know the authors, so I can't make any personal assessment of their intelligence.

Even the most intelligent of people can make stupid statements. In fact, I'm pretty sure that everyone has made stupid statements at one time or another. I know I sure have. My kids make stupid statements from time to time, but I don't consider them stupid.

What do I care? Well, I care because in most cases I choose my words carefully. If I had intended to make a personal statement, I would have worded it so that it was a personal statement. In this case I didn't, I made a comment about the statement I was quoting. Since my "overly stupid" comment has been referred to multiple times by the Orbit Trap authors giving the impression that I called them "overly stupid" and this was just one more personal attack they have endured, I wanted to set the record straight. I called the comment "overly stupid", not the author.

It is common in written exchanges to make this sort of mistake, that is taking comments about something that someone wrote and assessing it as a personal comment. I'll assume that it was simply an error. A comment made about something someone said is not the same thing as making a comment about that person. IOW, I'm saying what you said was stupid, not that you are stupid. I hope people understand the difference.

Now that I have cleared this up, I assume the Orbit Trap authors will cease complaining that they were called "overly stupid".

What Now?

There are two major fractal related events that have been the subject of much discussion in recent months. These are the Benoit Mandelbrot Fractal Art Contest (BMFAC) and the Fractal Universe calendar. The authors at the Orbit Trap blog have made these two the target of numerous posts. Myself and others, most recently Toby, have objected to the tactics and tone of the posts targeting these two events.

My post on the calendar details how there is nothing wrong how it is setup or run. You may not like how it is run, but that is a different issue than there being problems with it.

The BMFAC is a different beast. The issues surrounding it are not as clear as with the calendar. My contention is that there are basically no serious issues with the BMFAC, but there could be things changed in the future to make it better. I contend that the BMFAC is better to exist than not exist, even if it continues to exist in its current form. Orbit Trap obviously disagrees. My intent is not to discuss this in detail at this time.

So, assume for sake of argument that both events continue on in their present form. What should the fractal community as a whole do?

Does it make sense to continue to complain about these events and accuse the organizers and judges or editors of ethical breaches for their continued participation?

Or, does it make more sense to seek to create other outlets for exposing the masses to fractal art, or digital art generally?

I would contend the latter. There are many self-publishing venues available for very reasonable costs. Anyone can create and market their own calendar for no up-front money. People can even collaborate and create a group calendar. Sure, it takes time and effort, but so does complaining about things you are powerless to change. It is unlikely that any one individual is going to sell a large number of calendars. But, who knows, over time you may develop an audience that looks forward to your next calendar. You might even get lucky and attract the attention of a major publisher. The point is, complaining gets you nowhere and unless you take action, you won't get anywhere either.

Another option is to create a book. I've made several books of photographs for personal use. It takes time, certainly, but it is a way to make your art available for others. Again, there is no up front cost. You might not make any, or much, money. But, you have an outlet that can be used to get your work in front of others. I would like to see a large number of fractal and digital artists create self-published books of their work. I can think of quite a number of people whose books I would purchase if they were made available. Groups of people could collaborate on a book, just as they could for a calendar. There is also the chance of attracting the attention of a publisher. So, what is stopping you?

The BMFAC is a much different can of worms. Organizing and running such an exhibition is a much more difficult proposition. I've never done it, and I don't pretend to know how to start. So, I'm certainly no expert on offering advice. I'm sure it takes a lot of time. It can likely take quite a bit of money. So, what should be done?

Does it make sense to continually target this event with complaints and charges of ethical breaches by the judges? Or, perhaps does it make more sense to be civil and offer constructive suggestions to improve it in the future? Should concerned individuals take action to try to create exhibitions in proximity to their location? Does this event even matter in the larger scheme of things? I don't pretend to know all the answers.

One thing I am certain of, constant complaining about existing events doesn't do much good either. It's one thing to bring up concerns and suggest changes to make the event better. It's entirely another thing to constantly deride the event and those associated with it as unethical and self-serving for their involvement. It's easy to complain, it's not so easy to take action to effect positive changes. I'd much rather see constructive ideas and action taken to create other outlets for exposing fractal art to more people than negativity.

I'm interested in other ideas. Anyone have any?

04 March 2008


Toby's recent formula upload to the Ultra Fractal Formula Database, spiroglyphics, reminded me of a formula I wrote several years ago. It's a Trirograph. A trirograph is a spirograph with three wheels, rather than two. One wheel is fixed, and the other two rotate. It's rather hard to visualize how it would work mechanically, like the traditional spirograph that many of us played with as kids. But, mathematically, it works rather nicely. I need to get the formula cleaned up and make it available publicly. But, that's just one more in a long list of projects that I'll get to eventually.

I found the Trirograph several years ago while doing web searches when I was working on a spirograph formula.

Images can be simple, looking like they may be a traditional spirograph.
Images can be more complex.
Images can be a jumbled mess.
Images can be plotted by using points, rather than lines, if desired.
Multiple iterations of the same shape can be drawn with changing some of the parameters for each iteration allowing for a variety of overlapping effects.
Or, if one prefers, shapes rather than lines or points can be used.
Or, use spirals to connect the points along the path.
None of these examples are intended to be great art. I just consider them fun. In the right hands, even the simple spirograph, or trirograph in this case, can be turned into attractive art work. At least, I think so.