Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Whose picture is it anyway?

A recent email from Tim reminding me that I haven't posted here in quite some got me thinking about something about the origins of the pictures we create using fractal formulae and software:

Just whose picture is it anyway?

Mandel Mask Tina-O

"Mandel Mask Tina-O"
Is it mine or does it belong to Benoit Mandelbrot et al?

Of course, I'd like to think all the art that I've created over the years is belongs to me and at least, as the currently accepted copyright issues go, that is the case. In effect, the formula writers who have uploaded their formulae to the public database, and who hold copyrights to those formulae, have granted a free license to me and other fractal artists to use and manipulate their work in such a way as to produce a unique image for which the artist has a right to claim full copyright - over and above the copyrights of the formulae used.

Pickled Pear

"Pickled Pear"
Tina's or Sam's?

To my eye there is no mistaking the talented hand of Samual Monnier in this picture and yet he does not own any rights to it. There is no possible way that I could have sat down with a blank canvas, so to speak, and created this "Pickled Pear". It is essential for me to have the tools that others have created to hand in order to create.

16th Wedding Anniversary

"16th Wedding Anniversary"
Mine or Damien Jones'?

I don't wish to labour a point (more examples below!) but am interested to know how other feel about this issue - especially the formula writers themselves. Is there any regret about freely dishing out your formulae to all and sundry or does it give you pleasure to see art being created from it?

"Men at Work"
I can't look at this image without seeing its origins from Andreas Lober

Do other artists share my own anxieties about just whose picture it is anyway, or is it just me?

Sea Scape

"Sea Scape"
It couldn't have been created without Mark Townsend & Denis Magar


Blogger aartika said...

PS - forgot to say - Merry Christmas everyone! Tina

12/26/2006 8:20 AM

Blogger Tim said...

I'd say everything we do is in some way connected to the efforts of others, that's the essence of civilization and why they grow; each generation starts at a more advanced point. So with fractalists, our accomplishments are the result of the mathematicians and programmers and others who've made the tools we use (formulas, parameter files...).

One thing I'd add though, is that I think nothing brings a greater sense of accomplishment to a fractal programmer or formula contributer than to see their work used by others to create something great and impressive; they share in our personal accomplishments just like the engineers who built the rockets that took men to the moon shared in the sucess of the astronauts.

12/26/2006 9:27 AM

Blogger aartika said...

I don't doubt at all the connection; more the validity of the legal, financial and moral ownership, as well as my own artistic integrity.

Would I feel differently if I'd had to pay money for the use of the formulae, in the same way as I might have to pay for some thrid party photoshop brushes or picture tubes? I'm not sure that I would, because the shapes and patterns within some of the formulae are so very distinctive.

It's nice to hear, though, that formula writers gain a sense of accomplishment through others using their work, although I think that Neil Armstrong's name will be the one that gets remembered in relation to his trip to the moon!

12/26/2006 9:56 AM

Blogger Guido said...

I didn´t see the problem like you put it. Let´s take the question about perspective: to whon belongs the "invention" of a three-dimentional representation of objects on a flat surface? To Brunelleschi, since he was the first artist who contrived the first painting in "true" perspective? But before Euclid had produced his geometry and optics some 1700 years before Brunelleschi. Not considering that even the Arabs had pursued the very same topics in a sophisticated manner. The elaboration of the rules of the perspective is part of a large hitorical development. Although has been invented, it do not belongs to anybody. You´re free to see in perspective. Althoug it has been part of studies throught the centurys - and it isn´t finished yet. Do you know it took longer to be created than the invention of the wheel? That is. And still is free. What I want to say is that Art is the territory of freedon. Nobody would think that you have to pay rights on a píece of art despite you´re making your work on a PC with Windows XP running inside. And if you´re using a mathematical (or whatever it is) formula to focus on some parcels of reality - such a thing do not belong to anybody besides you. You did the work of art - wich haven´t been the intention of the mathematician. He did a discovery. Good. You came later and occupied the land. Bravo! Unless if we believe that all forms of representation remained forever in a sort of limbus, where sometimes artists are going to pick up something that nobody saw before.If that would be the case, than we have to pay.

12/26/2006 4:23 PM

Blogger aartika said...

Guido - I think my point is more this - someone other than me has discovered / created / developed / programme / designed the formulae and then allowed me to use those formulae (for free), to produce what is then potentially a commercial product, often with the inherent shapes and patterns that have been written into the formulae still apparent in my finished artwork. This would still be the case even if I'd had to pay a license fee to use them.

Granted I also need a computer with windows, for which I have had to pay, and some software - for which I have also had to pay, but I view these two to be more comparable to a painter having to buy paint, brushes & canvas.

Without the formulae I could not create the pictures I do. There are many that would argue that formula writing for Ultra Fractal, for example, is not simply a discovery but an art form in itself and I am inclined to agree with this view.

I am very happy that I have these tools at my disposal, but at the same time concerned that my pictures are less "my creation" than a technical manipulation of the creativity of someone else.

12/26/2006 4:51 PM

Blogger Guido said...

I think there is not much to do in your case. If you´re feeling "less creative" because others did the necesary formulae for this kind of work (fractals), it´s time for you to start writing your own formulas. On the other hand, why not to share the authorship of your works? Mean, why not to make it explicit at the UF´s comments window? I doubt formulae authors will refuse such a noble attitude.I even would say that this could bring something new for the debate on the "convivence" among science and art.

12/26/2006 6:45 PM

Blogger aartika said...

I guess a shared authorship is one way round the issue, but hard for the formula writers to enforce, even with a signed and sealed license agreement between themselves and the artist.

For the artists to publicly give away formula combinations, even without the parameter sets can be a risky business if images are not to be ripped off by the unscrupulous.

Perhaps one of these days I can find the time and mental energy to learn formula writing but I somehow seriously doubt whether I could ever achieve success at it - much as I'd like to!

12/26/2006 7:20 PM

Blogger M.Spiegel said...

I am very happy that I have these tools at my disposal, but at the same time concerned that my pictures are less "my creation" than a technical manipulation of the creativity of someone else.

I think it's a collaboration. Yes, we can recognize the formula used, but we can also recognize an artist's style or notice when someone uses a popular formula in a totally unexpected way.

I also think that the vast majority of art - literature, cinema, music - is built upon what came before. I'm not going to say "all of it" because I suppose someone had to be the first to make a cave painting.

12/26/2006 8:30 PM

Blogger David Makin said...

Hi all,

My personal attitude to my own formulas is that anything unique created using them belongs to the artist that created it subject to the normal non-derivative and non-plagariasm "rules" (I mean derivative/plagarised from other parameter files).

Having said that I do feel that an image I create that is created solely from my own formulas is more "mine" than those when I've used other's formulas as well and this is part of the reason I tend to stick to my own formulas - though the main reason is that I know and understand them better than those written by others.

So as far as I'm concerned I'm happy to have other folks produce work using my formulas - that's what I created them for, it'd be a shame if only I used them.

12/27/2006 9:32 PM

Blogger Andreas said...

Hi Tina,

thank you for this interesting discussion.

a) Do not doubt your artistic integrity. Even if you use one of my "strong" formulas which contain a lot of geometrical pencil and paper work that was transferred to UF code - your personal style makes your work always unique and different from my own creation contained in the formula.

b) I have thought long about giving away my "strong" formulas (as Damien defined this expression). It was no easy decision to share this stuff, therefore it is only semi-public.

c) I always believed that you - and others - would be able to "personalize" a tool. This is one aspect of Art for me.


P.S.: A Happy New Year to everyone here.

1/04/2007 6:06 PM

Blogger MariaKL said...

Wow, I just joined Orbit Trap and read this VERY interesting subject and the postings at once!! I have had my worries myself througout the years - is this my art or not - and this really helped me! Happy to be here. cu!
Maria (from Denmark)

3/13/2007 4:18 PM


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