17 June 2009

There They Go Again

Since OT seems to be crying in their beer with their latest post, I decided to shed a little light on their woes by giving my opinion of their beefs. So, lets dive in.

Initially, I had expected it to have an enormous influence on fractal art simply by virtue of being a collective venue ready to showcase and demonstrate new ideas and fresh directions in fractal art.
The idea was a good one. A variety of contributors and viewpoints, had the potential for providing for interesting ideas being discussed. Perhaps a bit conceited with the opinion that they would be an "enormous influence" on the fractal art scene. Unfortunately, it didn't work all that well.
The hostility that erupted when concepts like politics and art criticism --concepts which are commonplace in the larger world of art-- were introduced in the context of fractal art, made me realize that the fractal art world, despite being a high-tech art form, was in fact a primitive, medieval oligarchy and a free and open 21st century venue like Orbit Trap was not welcome by the reigning Dukes and Duchesses.
The first posts on politics used images that had nothing whatsoever to do with politics. It was only the titles chosen that conveyed the commentary. As I said then, and several times since, it's not using art as political or social commentary that is the problem, it's using abstract art to convey that message. It is extremely difficult to do that without adding text in a title or description to convey the meaning, which diverts focus from the art to the text, IMO. There is really nothing wrong with expressing political views, but do people really want to read them on a blog that is about fractal art? I certainly don't. Nor do I suspect that people want to read mine.

Criticism of art isn't a problem. Personal attacks are. What purpose is served by lumping large numbers of people and demeaning them as "fractalbookers"? When the critics themselves post some of the worst examples of fractal art I've ever seen, criticism of the work of others is a bit shallow. It also doesn't help when OT receives criticism they label their critics as trolls, or OT-haters, or part of the UF elite, or whatever their choice label is. IOW, their focus was never just on the art, it was also one the person(s) creating the art in many cases. To their credit, they have also showcased many individuals very positively in some posts.

Plus, the hostility didn't really start with politics or posts critical of art, the hostility started when OT decided to declare war against the BMFAC and Fractal Universe calendar. Numerous posts were made full of personal attacks and ad hominem attacks that were based on nothing more than the opinion of the authors. Any objective points that were made were obscured by the personal attacks. The archives here discuss this extensively. You can see the actual posts and comments there. So, OT is once again intentionally being misleading by not presenting an accurate accounting of their own history. Not really very honest or objective or unbiased, is it?
Criticizing Ultra Fractal... a big no-no! I posted my reasons for not using it and war broke out. Over the years (yes, years!) I reviewed and praised a number of fractal artists who use Ultra Fractal exclusively and yet Orbit Trap is still seen, in brute simple terms, as being anti-Ultra Fractal. Why? Because in fractal art's medieval environment you're either a vassal of the king or a vassal of his enemies. I chose to just speak my mind about Ultra Fractal, to just post my personal opinion, but that itself was an idea way ahead of it's time in fractal land, although it's a common activity, and a well-respected one, in the rest of the art world today.
Posting one's opinion about UF isn't a problem. It's a tool, and there are many tools. But, the criticism went way beyond that. It went into personal attacks on those who used it. There have been derogatory posts about layering, etc. There have been posts about how UF is "destroying" fractal art. The majority of people who use UF are labeled as "fractalbookers", or accused of copying the methods of experienced UF users. People have been ridiculed for taking classes to learn how to use UF more effectively. So, yes, it is quite reasonable to view OT as anti-UF. There aren't posts critical of Fractint, the dinosaur of fractal programs, or any other program. All programs have their pros and cons and those who like them and dislike them, so why the focus on UF? Because it is the most popular, widely used, and most capable program around? So, the comment above about "just post[ing] my personal opinion" is a bit disingenuous. The posts went beyond just "opinions".
Frankly, in my opinion, anyone who couldn't see that the Benoit Mandelbrot Fractal Art Contest or the Fractal Universe Calendar was run in a blatantly unfair way was either stupid or lying. What shocked me the most about the response to Orbit Trap's exposés of these contests was how many people who seemed to have nothing to gain spoke up to support the very entities that had been ripping them off every year by crowding them out of the winners circle. So many of the poor peasants came out to defend their beloved ruling elite. How could there be so many suckers? Is there no one out there with half a brain?
Here we have the typical OT attitude. You don't see the world my way you are "stupid or lying". That's a sure way to win friends. I've said before the BMFAC could have been run better. But, to accuse the participants and judges as having ethical breaches is beyond the pale. OT left that part out. I say that if OT can't understand that there are different forms of contests that run from informal to formal and degrees in between, they are just ignorant fools. That's basically the same attitude they have. I'm right, you're wrong, and you are stupid and unethical and a drone of the UF fiefdom if you don't agree.

Whether or not the BMFAC or calendar could, or even should be run differently, is different from calling the organizers and participants unethical and self-serving. That is what OT did, and that is an important fact they left out in their whine above about the criticism they received when they launched into their continual rants about these two events. It's one thing to criticize how something is run. It's another matter entirely to personally attack those running the events as unethical and self-serving, etc. People were "ripped off"? Who? How? Because the OT authors don't produce art that is likely to be accepted in either of these events? I've wondered for a long time if OT even has half a brain when they talk like this.
The Benoit Mandelbrot Fractal Art Contest is in hiding, possibly MIA or KIA. At least for the time being it's been neutered, but who knows? Those people don't talk to anyone except themselves. Orbit Trap is the only place you'll get an unbiased perspective on fractal art and what's going on, even if we have to guess sometimes.
I personally don't know what is up with the BMFAC. But, calling OT unbiased has me ROTFLMAO. They do have a perspective, but it is hardly unbiased. Bias isn't necessarily bad, but it is when you deny it.
And now, the big event, if you haven't noticed, is that the Fractal Universe Calendar's annual contest, as announced by Tina Oloyede in a belated response to Orbit Trap's enquiries, will no longer operate as a contest as it has for all these years but will instead just contact a few artists directly to ask them for artwork.
Isn't this one of the changes OT had suggested? What really, is wrong with allowing anyone to submit images for consideration? So, OT doesn't like the style of art in the calendar. Does that really bother them so much? Is there room for only a couple of fractal art calendars? Why won't they create their own, or organize their own? They never address that suggestion, they only scoff at it.
Of course, that was what they really doing all along, but the big deal is that the medieval pagentry and pomp is gone and the fractal art world's longest running contest has now left the Middle Ages and entered the social equivalent of the 16th century Renaissance. And that, in my opinion, is the biggest news of the last three years in the fractal art world. They didn't even make that announcement that on their own website! It was made in the comments section (yes, the comments section) of an Orbit Trap posting.
I'm surprised Tina answered their questions. The questions were only trolling to find fodder for future posts, IMO. I would have ignored them, as they rightly were for so long. But, I'll let OT revel in the exclusive of having the answers posted in a comment.
Although, I suppose, the fact that all this came about in response to the persistence of what is really nothing more than just another freely hosted blog on Blogger run by what is commonly seen as "two whiners" in the fractal world, is perhaps something of equal merit. How is it that Orbit Trap could run that venerable and established contest out of town? Maybe telling the truth about them month after month made them feel so uncomfortable they just had to do something?
OT "[ran] ... contest out of town". Talk about delusions of grandeur. I doubt OT had anything to do with anything related to the calendar. We'll know more if the details are ever posted about what actually was behind this year's calendar. But, I'm confident OT had nothing to do with any of it. As important as OT thinks they are, they just legends in their own minds.

Of all the things OT is known for, truth isn't very high on the list. I've detailed numerous times where they have been less than truthful. Most of the time they are misleading and disingenuous, but once in a while they are outright liars.

But, the real enlightening insight in the entire post came in the comments. A commenter said,
I've been reading Orbit Trap since it started, because I'm interested in fractal art, and there's been some interesting critical discussion of what constitutes fractal art, what makes it good or bad, and so on. Great stuff!

On the other hand, I just can't muster any interest in this whole calendar/contest/fractalus business. It's just not interesting. I don't care about the calendar or the astonishing revelation that some banal images of spirals aren't on some website any more.

Now that you have declared victory, I hope we can get back to some discussion about, y'know, art or something.
As reasonable comment, IMO. OT does have thought provoking and interesting posts at times. But, the constant complaining about the BMFAC and calendar, or complaining that people don't want to see political commentary, etc. is petty and boring. So, how do they respond to the above? This way,
"I just can't muster any interest in this"

--and yet you take the time to post a comment about this thing you have absolutely no interest in!

I'm sure looking forward to discussing fractal art with someone who postures like that.
Boy, OT can sure dish it out, but they can't take it. Of course, honest, objective readers have known that for a long, long time about OT. A common response by OT is to attack commenters when they voice objection or criticism of something OT wrote. It's no wonder people don't bother to comment much to OT anymore. At best, you get a snide response to a reasonable comment. At worse, you are attacked and in the extreme, banned. Another response like that and the person commenting will likely get banned or labeled as a troll.

OT needs to learn that if they are going to set themselves on a pedestal and takes shots at all things fractal, they are going to receive shots in return. If they can ever do that, and take the shots as well as they can give them out, then there might be hope for them to achieve the lofty status they have built up in their minds. But, don't hold your breath. After all, this post is just from a troll and OT-hater and vassal and [insert OT's favorite derogatory adjective here].


Happy said...


our psychodelic fractal images
are HERE. We face THE SAME ego-slime.

all the best from Germany!

Keith said...

Unless they change their minds, the 2010 calendar will be the last fractal calendar that Avalanche will publish. The calendar and "contest" are dead. It's over. The horse is dead.

I see no reason for the publisher to announce why they decided to do what they did so I wouldn't expect to hear anything from them. Whatever the reason, I am sure that it was a business decision that was based on business realities.

kymarto said...

Let them rant. Somehow it makes them feel important. But I appreciate your well-considered posts on the subject of OT's biases and behavior.