28 August 2008

Outside The Box???

I've been pondering this for a while since reading some recent rants about how fractal art is "boring". There is nothing new and exciting. Everything is just another "gourmet sandwich" of layers done in Ultra Fractal. You see, most of the critical comments are made with reference to UF in some way.

While it is true there is a lot of copying of styles from one artist to another, to my eyes, the images I see are constantly improving from year to year. There are still a lot of mediocre images, IMO, being posted. But then, most of the images I create are mediocre. I think most of the images anyone creates are mediocre. Outstanding images are rare. This is also true of photography sites that I view. Lots of images, most of them average at best, and a small number that are really exceptional. Why would anyone expect fractal image galleries, or any other type of art, to be any different?

I think what is really at issue is the hatred of UF by a few. Their animosity towards what is currently the most popular and widely used program for producing fractal imagery is obvious. UF offers the largest collection of formulas, the most capable formula language ever created for writing fractal formulas, and the most extensive feature set ever available for creating fractal imagery.

So, why the hatred? The answer is unclear, but hints are available. Some critics have never learned how to use it effectively, per their own admission. It offers "post-processing" like features that allow people to claim their work is created exclusively in UF which apparently hurts the feelings of those who post-process their images in other programs. UF is the program of choice for many of those who are the most respected fractal artists today. And, I think the biggie is that many of these same people are the "controlling" authorities behind the Fractal Universe calendar and the BMFAC. I say "controlling" in a facetious manner because that is the view promoted by some. The actual fact is the critics are not involved in these events, and that irritates them, IMO.

But, lets get back to the subject, "Outside the Box". What does that mean? Several recent posts seem to imply that most fractal images created today are all the same. There is nothing new. Perhaps that is true. I don't actually think this is the case. So, let me ask, what new and exciting images have the critics offered recently?

To me, the answer is none. All I see, and have seen for years, are the same style of marginal fractal images mangled with filters. True, those are not my favorite style, and my opinion of them really isn't relevant. What is relevant is that there is nothing there that is new or different than what the critics have always posted. If you are going to complain about there being nothing new, then why not offer something new?

I agree that it is good for artists to challenge themselves by exploring new ideas, concepts, methods, etc. Doing the same thing over and over can lead to images that look the same. That can, indeed, be boring. It's easy to do what is familiar and comfortable, especially when it took some time to reach that point. If you are happy with where you are, that is fine and a personal choice.

However, if you aren't happy with what you see and are going to vocally criticize and complain about it, then don't you think that you should lead by example and try new things yourself? To not do so, IMO, is rather hypocritical. But then, that is often the mark of such critics.

20 August 2008

The Olympics

I like the Olympics. I've always been a sports fan, and I really enjoy watching athletes at the top of their sport.

I like it when my team is favored and they win.

I like it when my team is an underdog and defeats the favorite.

It's disappointing when my team is favored and looses to an underdog.

It's disappointing when an athlete trains and reaches their peak only to suffer an injury that knocks them out of contention.

I like it when an athlete like Michael Phelps sets a seemingly impossible goal and achieves it when many think it is impossible.

I like it when athletes and teams persevere in the face of injury and adversity.

I like it when athletes are caught using drugs and have their medals stripped and are expelled from the games.

I don't like it when teams cheat and aren't punished for it. This is just as bad as individuals using drugs and should be as vigorously combated.

I don't like the inconsistency of subjective judging. Judges need to be able to explain their scoring and justify it. In fact, it should be required. By explaining their scoring, clear biases and inconsistencies can be spotted and corrected. The problem is figuring out a way to do it without the scoring taking forever.

I don't like athletes competing for another country when they didn't make the team in their own country. When did this become allowable? You should be a citizen for the country for which you compete.

I don't like professional athletes in the Olympics regardless of the sport. I realize that "amateur" athletes in many countries are essentially professional athletes because they are state subsidized and don't have the opportunity to participate in the professional leagues. I realize the lines are blurred in many sports. Regardless, I don't like NBA, MLB, NHL, tennis, soccer, or other professionals participating in the Olympics. It used to be against the rules, and I don't think the change is for the better.

Of particular interest to our family is the Tae Kwon Do competition. My wife and kids all are learning Tae Kwon Do from an Olympian from the 2000 team. She was a victim of one of those upsets when she lost to someone she had previously defeated four times. Disappointing for sure, but it is a great experience to learn from someone who reached the top of her sport. Three of the four members of the US Tae Kwon Do team are from the same family, the Lopez's. This is a first in Olympic competition.

08 August 2008

The Demise Continues

It's nice to see that UF 5, with its image importing feature, is continuing to perpetuate the demise of fractal art. Of course, I'm being facetious, but this is the view of those who think using layers is bad, and the only "true" manipulation of a fractal image should be done using filters in a graphics program.

Why does it matter if one uses images or not?

Why does it matter if one uses layers or not?

Why does it matter if one destroys all visual fractal properties with filters in a graphics program or not?

Why does the path to the result matter to anyone other than the artist?

Here are a few images that use image importing.

Cheesy, but still fractal.


I like it. Is it hurting your art somehow?

Another one well done. Is it harmful to your art?

Cartoonish? You bet. Fractal? Nope. Certainly a valid piece of art. How good, you decide.

I think this is one of the best ones I've seen.

I'd still like to see an explanation of how or why any of these examples are bad. Some are obviously better than others, and I'm sure some prefer different ones than I do.

How do they hurt fractal art as some allege?

Aren't they simply expressions of the artists?