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.


WelshWench said...

You've highlighted the almighty irony in the cries from certain quarters bemoaning what they see as a failure on the part of people to produce work "outside the box". What they want is for you (generic you) to stop working in your box ... and start working in their box!

Can you imagine the cries of "boring", "mundane" and "trite" that would ensue if we all started click click clicking away with whatever the filter de jour is and producing images similar to the critics' own?

I do wish they'd shut up with the whinging and just get on with making whatever sort of artistic images they like. Which is precisely what I'm off to do right now :)

M.Spiegel said...

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.

I'm reminded of Sturgeon's Law: 90% of everything is crap.

And if one is looking at a gallery like DA or Rosity, there's the added fact that there will be people who aren't interested in producing Ground-Breaking Art, because they're doing it simply as a hobby; plus the people who only learned about fractals last month and haven't yet explored the full possibilities.