Tuesday, November 10, 2009


I've finally had a chance to take a better look at the contest, and I find that I'm left feeling a little bit let down or disappointed. Not with any individual image, necessarily (although as several people have pointed out, a couple of them aren't even really fractal), but that this year's selections seem to be heavily weighted toward texture-fields and minimalism.

"So, which one was your favorite?"

"Oh, I liked that one that was textured all over, mostly orange and white, with just a little blue."

"Yeah, that was my favorite too. We'd better make sure it gets printed."

The thing is, out of twenty-five winners, do there really need to be three that fit this description?

With the more minimal ones, I mostly just wonder what advantage there is in printing them very large, since there's not particularly any new detail to be revealed. Graphically, they will no doubt be quite effective, but they seem to ignore the specific potential of fractals to be full of interesting surprises when magnified.

It's all gotten me started thinking about the strengths and weaknesses of fractals as a medium, and why I like them, which seems to be maybe different than why other people like them, and what the implications are for my own future work and the fractal-art world in general. It's too much for me to process! And it's all mixed up with a book I'm reading lately, written in the early 1920s and intended to explain why Modernism was (a) degenerate & evil and (b) doomed to be quickly forgotten. There seem to be some possible historical parallels, but I suspect it's going to take me some time to sort them out.

Still, it does reinforce my idea that it would be really good if there were more fractal events than just this occasional big contest. I'm beginning to wonder if I might be able to organize some kind of small-scale thing. It's an intimidating thought.


Gissel Escudero said...

I pretty much agree with you. And I support your idea of organizing some small-scale thing :-)


Keith said...

The contest might seem like a big deal, but it's really just a drop in the bucket in the grand scheme of things. 25 fractal images are going to be on display every 4 years for less than a week at a conference in India (or where ever) with a few thousand people attending the conference. I don't know where the prints will end up after that, but I am pretty sure that when the conference is over, the show is over. I do not believe that this contest will have a significant impact on the popularity or acceptance of fractals as art.

I am not saying that the contest isn't cool or that the art is bad or that the efforts of the people that participated have been wasted, but when you put it into perspective the contest is pretty low impact.

There is the contest web site with all of the images, but there are hundreds of web sites with fractal art on them. The web site will just get lost in the fog of the web.

I guess that the idea of a competition motivates people to do their best, which is good, but why do we need a contest to accomplish that?

As far as what won goes, it doesn't matter. I took about a 3 second glance at the winners and then went to the rest. Art is subjective. Jackson Pollock is proof of that (his stuff is crap - it might be 25 million dollar crap, but it's still crap ;-)). While I respect the judges, I know that all that they have are their opinions. Art is subjective.

We don't need to wait 4 years for this contest to reappear to get fractal prints in front of a lot of people. There are local fairs, arts and crafts shows, galleries, offices and many other ways to get it out there. It does take work and it isn't easy or convenient but there are plenty of ways to do it.If 20 people were willing to put the same amount of effort that Damien Jones put into the contest, there could be 20 cities in the world with fractal art on display at galleries or whatever. It's just hard to find people that are willing to do it.

You can be like Orbit Trap and spend the next 4 years doing nothing but complaining about one or two fractal outlets, or you can be productive like Damien Jones and create an outlet or take advantage of one. If several people were willing to do that then there would be an impact.

Mr.Velocipede said...

It's true that the fractal contest isn't much in the larger scheme of things. If it comes to that, the entire community of fractal art is pretty much below-the-radar invisible to the rest of the world. I think the contest is significant partly because it does have Dr. Mandelbrot's name attached to it, which gives it some credibility and weight, and because it provides a focus of interest for the participants. As you say, people are likely to put more effort into something that's for a contest than for their own gallery pages.

I have an enormous amount of admiration for Damien (and the rest of the judges and organizers) for being able to put something like this together. No, curating and hanging a major exhibition of work is not an easy job, especially when the participants are scattered all over the world.

I'm in the very early, tentative stages of working on a small fractal event of my own. It's not to the point where I can tell the internet about it yet, but I'm hoping to have some time to work on it over the holidays.