05 March 2008

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?


kymarto said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
kymarto said...

I deleted my original comment because I wished to correct a typo. Here it is again:

Well, it looks like I have finally been banned from "Orbit Trap". My reply to Terry's last comment on the entry "Fractalbook", in which he tells me to "cut through it" and closes with: "In the end, you are just another troll" has, for some mysterious reason, not appeared.

For the record, I ask your leave to publish it here. It also explains my take on the behavior of the Orbit Trap authors.


"Aha! Have I finally touched a nerve?

"Well Terry, I think it is debatable which of us is the troll in the larger sense. You obviously don't wish to consider any of the points that I have been politely trying to bring up with you, and to be honest I did not really expect that you would, because doing so would threaten your whole raison d'etre. It's a bit sad really, because you are obviously an intelligent guy, but some of the most intelligent people I know are the most tortured. You can't think your way out of it, nor write your way out of it, in case you haven't yet noticed. But don't worry, life has a way of getting through every barrier, eventually.

"I didn't miss Tim's point, but I have a whole different take on what is important. Fractal art is not; nor is the selection of images for the FU calendar or who gets their works hung in what gallery alongside whom. What is important (in my world at least) is what the Buddhists call 'loving kindness': supporting people in their efforts towards self-actualization and creative satisfaction, healing divisions instead of creating them.

"I think that the online art communities are *wonderful* if they give people a forum to discuss what they love, if they give people joy and make them feel good about themselves, if they allow people to stimulate each other and get their juices flowing.

"At the end of the day any art which touches even a single person is valid and worthy. The marvelous thing about art on the internet is its very abundance; never before has so much been available so accessibly to so many.

"To deride what gives others joy is like drinking salt water for dehydration: it feels good going down but leaves you thirstier than before.

"You and Tim seem to think that you are exposing great wrongs and discussing weighty matters, but at the end of the day your precious 'serious fractal art' is not even a blip on the radar screen of the art world in any sense that you care to name. You are tearing yourselves apart for nothing, and making life miserable for a lot of other people in the process. If destructiveness is the mark of a troll, have a look in the mirror.

Nor do I think you are quite as tough and cool as you would like others to believe; in fact I am pretty sure that you are both envious and angry that other people are able to give and receive a certain kind of satisfaction and comfort that is alien to you and which you desire so deeply.

"Don't fool yourself for a minute with your righteous justifications; the energies that fuel your fires are born of long-standing ache and frustration which have turned to cold rage; and this has found a clever excuse to slip by your ego on its mission to tear others down and make them feel the pain that you yourself feel.

"It is not a very satisfactory cry for help, I can tell you from experience. People are reluctant to embrace those who hurt them. There aren't very many saints around.

"As a friend and fellow traveler I can tell you that at the end of the day such behavior will get you nowhere you wish to go. You already know this, of course, which just makes you angrier.

"So I've cut through it for you. I'll leave you in peace here on your blog, leave you free to dream that the sound of your own words will somehow soothe that terrible ache that never seems to go away for long.

Best to you both,