31 December 2009

Art, Craft, Guilds and General Ramblings

I'm taking a little break from posting photos. I'll likely start again after the first of the year, either here or on a web site I'm working on setting up.

There has actually been some interesting reading at OT lately. A couple of commenters have actually dared to disagree with the OT authors. Somewhat surprisingly, they haven't yet been labeled as trolls and banned. Probably because they haven't been linked to the UF "establishment" yet. Although, the use of the word "demagoguery" got the OT author to put forth another conspiracy theory that Damien is issuing orders for the commenters. ROTFL.

Perhaps it is because the comments being offered are more theoretical and opinion based that doesn't cause OT to put forth claims of "troll", "hater", etc. Had the comments offered facts that show OT to be wrong, I've no doubt that those making the comments would be swiftly banned.

The series on the "Fractal Art Guild" raises some interesting points. However, I view it more as an essay on how to blame UF and its popularity for the "problems" in the fractal art world. It's a more indirect criticism of UF than past articles, but is still a criticism just the same. As at least one commenter pointed out, the "guild" is largely just normal group dynamics. Nothing really wrong with that. Read it and decide for yourself.

On the other hand, the articles talking about art and craft raises other issues more generic to discussions of art. The OT authors seem to have a real problem with considering anything that looks nice as art. They claim this isn't the case, yet at the same time, say that fractal art that is simply nice to look at isn't valid art. To be art, the work must make some social, political, or other kind of statement to be valid art. I've never understood this attitude. Art doesn't have to be beautiful to be considered art. But, I think most people prefer beautiful art. Art certainly doesn't have to make some social, or any other comment, to be art. That is a valid use for art, but it is in no way a criteria for something to be art.

Most of Ansel Adams' photography work doesn't make any sort of cultural statement. Yet, his works are considered some of the premier fine art photography ever produced. Most of it is nice to look at. Does that make his work merely "craft" as defined by the OT articles? I don't think so. Adams was most certainly a master at his craft.

Fractal art, as I've said before, is abstract art. It is very, very difficult to make abstract art say anything beyond its visual impact. The OT authors never have succeeded with any art I've seen from them. The closest example they have shown is by Guido, and his art really only has impact if you know the title or the story behind the pieces. The example shown by OT isn't very visually appealing by itself. It really only takes on significance when you know the title or the story behind its creation. That doesn't make the works any more or less art. It just means that the impact is much less if you don't know the title or what the artist's intent behind the work.

OTOH, if a work of art is related to some social or political issue, but is otherwise mediocre, why should it be considered better or more significant than an excellent work that makes no such statement? This seems to me to be the line of reasoning that OT takes. I don't think so. To me, art should stand alone on its merits. Any statement that any given work makes would only add to its significance, not be its significance.

So, why is there this hang up with the meaning of fractal art? Perhaps one reason is the desire the be accepted by the traditional art world. By making statements with your art, or making a particular piece have some meaning, there is a perception you are more valid as an artist. I think this is nonsense. Some of the worst pieces of crap ever produced have been by artists trying to make a statement of one sort or another. I'm sure you can think of a number of examples that you've seen.

Also, the whining about the BMFAC continues full speed ahead. There have been some valid criticisms, but most are just whining. IMO, this contest still displays some of the best fractal art currently made. I know OT doesn't like the contest or the art chosen, however, they have yet to provide examples of what such a contest should display according to OT's criteria.

One of the valid criticisms is the size of images required. This doesn't really bother me, but I understand it. The organizers are free to require any size they choose. Most art has a greater impact in a large print than it does in a small print or on the computer monitor. I know my photographs certainly do.

A couple of the pieces chosen seem to be a bit puzzling because they don't really exhibit normally expected fractal properties. This is a bit odd since the event is supposed to display fractal art. Morgen has an interesting critique of the contest. Her comments carry more validity with me because she hasn't spent years trashing UF, calendars, and contests.

I find it rather humorous that Nahee has surfaced again in comments on several recent OT posts. He suggests compiling a list of all the "flaws" with the BMFAC. I'm sure he and some others would really relish such a compilation. Of course, OT already has. And of course, such a list really doesn't accomplish anything useful. It just justifies the dislike of the contest in the minds of those who already dislike it. Plus, it gives such people a feeling of doing something rather than actually doing something.

Nahee also comments in the "Scams and Viruses" post,

The same can be said about copying the actual programming code from FREE open source software, and then turning around to sell their version without giving credit or acknowledgment.
This is a very old claim that Frederik copied Fractint code and included it in UF. I think this claim arose because UF has the ability to parse Fractint formulas and parameters. No proof has ever been offered, and Frederik has denied this. I suppose people who believe this think Frederik is lying. But, given how simple it is to parse Fractint formulas and parameters, it is easy to believe that a skilled programmer such as Frederik would find it trivial to write code to parse Fractint data. This is especially evident when you realize that the formula language in UF 2 was far more sophisticated than Fractint's. I found it a bit sad that Philip agreed with this bogus claim.

If you have been reading OT for any length of time, I think you'll clearly see that their agenda is to diminish UF and its impact in the fractal world. While their recent posts tone this down quite a bit, the undercurrent of criticism of UF is still quite apparent. Time has long since past for people to get over this. Focus on your own work. Make works that you like, whether visually appealing or not. Say, or try to say, what you want with your work, even if that means making the title say what the work cannot.

I think the biggest problem with OT is their constant negativity. Whether the topic be contests, calendars, UF, galleries, etc. the vast majority of comments are negative and complaining. There is the occasional positive post. Recent posts have been more positive that most, yet they still have the undercurrent of complaining. Their preference is to try to tear down events because they don't like the rules, or setup, or artwork chosen, etc. Why is it necessary to try to destroy events rather than take steps to create new outlets that display fractal art in a manner that you think is better? I've not figured this out. All I know is that it is much easier to complain than to actually take action to affect change that you want to see.

As I conclude, I'd like to point out that the latest post on "Printmaking" is quite good. Though, I do find the constant derogatory references to "Fractalbook" rather petty and juvenile. The post primarily focuses on fine art printing, which can be rather expensive, especially when framing is included. On the whole, I with the sentiment of the post. I would expand to say that you should consider printing your images even using the lesser expensive methods from your local Sam's Club or Costco. 8x10s are very inexpensive. Even a 20x30 print is less than $10. While not museum quality, the quality is very good. I've printed quite a few digital collages of photographs at that size and the results are very impressive for the price.

I hope everyone has a very Happy New Year and than in 2010 you make progress on achieving your goals.


kymarto said...

Hi Ken,

Good post. I do have to agree that I found some of the BMFAC winners puzzling, since the images, while perhaps algorithmic, did not disply much in the way of fractal characteristics that I could see. Perhaps this is just sour grapes because none of my lovely Mandelbrot images were chosen ;-)

Interestingly enough, I wrote a very temperate post about this and the question of 'fractal art' in general as a response to a post of OT, and it never showed up. I guess when they see my name they immediately hit the DELETE key without reading it.


Ken said...

Post it here, if you like.

I think they did unban you for a while, didn't they?

kymarto said...

I can't remember the chronology. Perhaps one post did get through at one point. What really surprises me is that basically I agreed with in some of their criticisms and still the post never appeared!

kymarto said...

I can't remember the chronology. Perhaps one post did get through at one point. What really surprises me is that basically I agreed with in some of their criticisms and still the post never appeared!