Wednesday, July 11, 2007

A Forum for Accusations?

I’ve been watching and participating in the increasingly hostile discussion here over the past two weeks or so. I don’t mind a little friendly discussion, but I don’t like to see misinformation propogated (about UF), so I lost my temper once at Thomas (and then apologized). But in the discussion following Terry’s “Take It to the Limitations” thread, Terry wrote a few things which I feel need to be addressed directly:

Instead, I questioned who stood to gain by keeping these limitations in place and suggested that the rules are possibly designed to privilege certain artists, programs, and styles.

I complained that some contests are not honest in their promotion and marketing. There are two types of contests that compel me to challenge the truth of their broad and subjective pronouncements. Type one is the contest that claims to showcase the genre’s finest artists. As an example, this contest openly trumpets “it will exhibit high quality works by the most important fractal artists in the world.” Read for yourself. Here’s the link.

In the FAQ section of the calendar’s Fractal Forum, the editors state they try to “produce a calendar that is representative of the current state of our art.” Here’s the link. Now I ask you. Is this statement an accurate description of the final product?

Good luck with your new camera lens. Maybe you can use it to focus on an examination of the ethics of editors and judges whose own work is somehow included in the fractal publications and exhibitions they are assigned to objectively oversee.

Now maybe you don’t see that as an outright accusation of bias or improper behavior, but it seems fairly clear to me that Terry is accusing both Keith (the editor in the last paragraph) and me (the judge in the last paragraph) of being unethical, because Keith’s and Panny’s artwork appears in the calendar, and because my and other contest panel judges’ artwork appeared in the exhibition.

I believe Terry’s accusation is without merit and, frankly, in poor taste. As Keith has already explained, Avalanche’s agreement with the editors is that each of them is guaranteed one image in the calendar, in exchange for doing the work of sifting through all of the entries and providing a “first cut” to the publisher. This detail of the agreement is in fact documented in the very same FAQ that Terry linked to with his other complaint, so he should have been well aware of this when he made his accusation. Not only that, but this is the same arrangement Avalanche has had through all the years I’ve been aware of their calendar—all the way back to when Rollo Silver was the editor and first opened up the calendar to submissions (prior to that, Rollo was the only artist to appear in the calendar).

As to the contest which Terry refers to, we quite clearly stated in the rules, right there in the preface:

Other artwork to be included in the exhibition will be from invited artists. These rules do not cover the invitation process, only the contest.

The decision to use judges’ artwork as the invited artists was not made by the judges, and the judges were not told of this until late in the selection process. For this year’s contest, we know in advance that judges’ artwork is to be included, so we have made the disclosure more explicit. I don’t know how we can be rightly accused of unethical behavior when we have been frank about this inclusion. Furthermore, I am informed by those with far more experience exhibiting artwork than me that jurors are almost always compensated. When they are not paid outright, their artwork is normally included (e.g. at a juried art show). Since the contest’s jurors are not paid a fee, exhibiting their artwork seemed like a reasonable compensation for their time and effort.

Terry wishes to take both the calendar and the contest to task, suggesting that our subjective marketing materials were somehow untruthful. I don’t understand how he can claim that subjective statements are either true or false; surely the fact that they’re subjective means they’re based on opinion? And they are not Terry’s events to run in any case. It is not his money at stake. (Nor was it mine or Keith’s; the sponsors and publishers, respectively, took the financial risk.)

I believe from this it is clear that these accusations have no place in rational discourse and serve no purpose other than demagoguery. I’ve delayed posting this several days to see if perhaps some other response might surface, but it seems that isn’t going to happen. If I can apologize to Thomas for a heated remark, I would expect no less from Terry.

15 Comments:

Blogger cruelanimal said...

Damien,

If you feel my presentation was heated, I apologize. I do not apologize, however, for asking questions about practices I believe deserve closer examination.

I feel you overstate and misrepresent what I wrote. Readers can easily backtrack and carefully examine what I actually said rather than rely on your cut and paste version.

Contrary to your claims, I do not believe I directly accused you or anyone else of all you are implying. What I really did was raise questions about the appearance of fairness, objectivity, and accurate presentation of results in some contests. I hope many of the blog’s readers are asking a few questions themselves about this whole controversy.

I would add that just because you choose to enter into an arrangement with a sponsor or publisher, and openly disclose the terms of that arrangement, it does not follow that your competition must automatically be ethical or fair. The situation becomes more problematic if the agreed upon terms run counter to the protocols that are customary in nearly all competitions -- like producing publications/exhibitions that mix the work of judges with the judged when presented to the public. If you, for whatever reasons, agree to oversee such competitions, then you should never be surprised to find yourself fielding questions about the appearance of impropriety.

7/11/2007 6:48 PM

 
Blogger Damien Jones said...

Terry,

You apologize for the tone, but not the content. You believe that I overstate and misrepresent what you wrote. Well, I don't agree with that at all; I think I quite fairly summed up what you wrote, and you stated further in the same thread that you stand behind what you wrote (at least to Keith, to whom you were replying when you wrote that). You were quite clear in your condemnation of him.

As for re-reading carefully what you wrote, I actually did that several times before posting, to make sure I had not misconstrued your remarks. I even wrote to you privately early this week to clarify. I will not divulge any private email I may or may not have received from you, but I will state that I attempted to settle this matter privately first. Yet here we are.

I thank you for your partial apology, but the fact that you refuse to admit you even really made an accusation at all pretty much makes even this tossed bone pointless.

--Damien

7/11/2007 9:00 PM

 
Blogger cruelanimal said...

Damien,

The bottom line is I refuse to agree with your opinions on this issue.

I believe the manner in which these competitions have been run deserves to be questioned. It doesn’t matter what your justifications are or how they have been organized in the past.

We did have a private correspondence, but if you think settling the situation involves my capitulation to your assumptions, then there is no solution -- whether public or private. Moreover, I strongly protest your punitive cancellation of my access to my web site -- which you host and which I have paid for through the end of this month.

By the way, in case you haven’t noticed, your ability to post freely on Orbit Trap has not been cancelled.

7/11/2007 10:32 PM

 
Blogger Ken said...

Terry,

As I read the posts, you were quite clearly attacking both Damien and Keith. I too read the posts multiple times. Even in your reply here, you are questioning the "appearance of fairness...". What evidence do you have of any ethical wrongdoing by any one? All I can tell is you don't agree with the rules for the ICM contest and the calendar selections. Fine, don't participate.

Now I see in your second reply you state, "I believe the manner in which these competitions have been run deserves to be questioned."

What grounds do they need to be questioned? Make specific charges or explain how they are unethical. I have read the guidelines and FAQs and have not seen any thing that should raise concerns. Because you don't like the rules or conditions doesn't imply any ethics issues.

To question ethics without any evidence is itself unethical. From where I sit, you are wrong and owe Damien and Keith an apology.

About all I can conclude from these posts is that you and Tim have some "thorn in your paw". About what exactly, I can't really tell.

7/11/2007 10:44 PM

 
Blogger Damien Jones said...

Terry,

As I explained to you privately, I suspended your access to my server because I no longer have confidence in your judgment. You're behaving irrationally, so to limit your ability to perform rash actions which might impact not only my own site but other sites I host, I have suspended your access until a more permanent solution can be found. I do not think you would do anything, but this is a prudent step for me to take as a responsible host. I will point out that I did not take down your content, but will do so the moment you request it. (Unless I succumb to the human failing of requiring sleep, in which case removal will occur when I wake up.)

I am not surprised that you see this as a punitive action. But it is clear from your behavior that you should no longer be given access to my server. Your write access to the server has been suspended, but I have provided a complete ZIP file of your content and emailed the link to you, so you are not denied the ability to archive the content you have. Furthermore, I already indicated to you that I would continue hosting your content through August 15, 2007, while you find alternative hosting, and to assist you in making the transfer without an interruption in your web site's availability. I hardly think this is the act of someone who is trying to punish you.

Not suspending my ability to post to Orbit Trap is very gracious of you. Then again, it's not your server at risk, it's Google's. So you're hardly exposing yourself nearly as much as if I continued to give you write access to my server.

--Damien

7/11/2007 11:03 PM

 
Blogger Thomas said...

"Good luck with your new camera lens. Maybe you can use it to focus on an examination of the ethics of editors and judges whose own work is somehow included in the fractal publications and exhibitions they are assigned to objectively oversee."

...

"Contrary to your claims, I do not believe I directly accused you or anyone else of all you are implying."

that's really blatant and smarmy, and trying to go back on those words isn't fooling anyone...

however, being denied access to site you pay to host is horrible - what's going on here damien?

7/12/2007 5:10 PM

 
Blogger Damien Jones said...

Thomas,

I host a number of fractal-related web sites, including eclectasy.com, where Terry's "Rooms With a View" web site is. I was concerned that Terry was not behaving rationally and might be tempted to do something rash, so I temporarily suspended his access to the DAV service which is used to write and manipulate files. I did not revoke his user certificate (which is irreversible, and would have required issuing a new certificate to restore access) but instead instructed the server to temporarily refuse to grant the bearer of that certificate (i.e. Terry) access. I did this during a phone conversation with Lynne Edel, the owner of the eclectasy.com domain, who agreed that this was a reasonable step.

Since the likely outcome of taking this step was that Terry would require a refund, I was already prepared to do that. Terry's refund for the balance of his hosting has been mailed out to him today, and an easy-to-download ZIP file of his content made available to him. I have also offered to assist him in migrating his site to a new host.

After my second conversation with Lynne today, she has elected to keep eclectasy.com on my server, and she informed me that Terry has acquired his own domain name and hosting and will move his content there.

--Damien

7/12/2007 5:34 PM

 
Blogger Thomas said...

it must be difficult having a surname like edel (german for "noble") and making business decisions based on personal affronts...

well, cause and effect -- it was definitely provoked, and the reaction not as irresponsible as it was made out to be. it's a bit sad to see, but then i'm not really in the story.

7/12/2007 6:55 PM

 
Blogger cruelanimal said...

Damien,

Maybe you should consider posting an accurate version of what really happened.

7/12/2007 10:33 PM

 
Blogger Damien Jones said...

Terry,

Including the private email that you asked me not to share? No?

Give it a rest, man. It's over. You've driven off another voice from OT that differs from yours. You and Tim can keep railing away here. It doesn't matter to me any more. We had some good discussion here in the past (see last year's archives) but sticking a red-hot poker at someone to get them to react is a pretty poor way of stimulating conversation. So I'm quite finished with Orbit Trap and, frankly, you too. You may have this blog to yourself. I'm not going to waste any more time with it.

--Damien

7/13/2007 7:51 AM

 
Blogger cruelanimal said...

Damien.

I claim that the events of the past week did not occur the way you have presented them. You were not calm and compromising, and I was not irrational and threatening.

The truth lies in our exchange of private emails. Present the facts -- or prove your false claims. Better yet, allow me to prove my claim. Give me permission to post all of your recent emails -- in their entirety -- on this blog. If you agree, I will also agree to do the same with mine.

Let the record speak for itself and resolve this once and for all.

7/13/2007 8:06 AM

 
Blogger Damien Jones said...

Terry,

Since I'm not at home at the moment I don't have access to the full email exchange, but based on my memory of it I find it hard to believe you really think the email exchange favors you. I think you think I will refuse to allow it to be published.

Honestly, I think we have beaten this thing to death. I think if you post the email trail there will be more arguing and accusations that it was doctored and trying to drag even more people into this. If you really think it will improve the situation, then post the email conversation. All of it. I don't care whether you do or not. But you're just wasting people's time now.

--Damien

7/13/2007 9:18 AM

 
Blogger cruelanimal said...

Damien,

I take your last reply to be an explicit yes. You are granting me permission to post all of your recent email correspondence sent to me concerning matters discussed on this blog -- beginning with the first email from you to me sent on Sunday, July 8th and ending with your final email to me sent on Wednesday, July 11th.

It will take me a while to arrange the correspondence in sequential order and in an easily readable format. Once I finish making those preparations, I will post the complete correspondence to the Orbit Trap main page.

7/13/2007 10:54 AM

 
Blogger J Parke said...

Damien, Terry --

I urge both of you to end this now. I have no idea what your private exchange contains, but making it public cannot serve anyone's good -- not to mention many people will think seriously about conversing privately for fear their messages could later be made public if one of the correspondents gets angry. Neither of you will "win." In fact, I think we have all lost something important here.

Janet

7/13/2007 11:41 AM

 
Blogger Panny said...

Well, I’ve had enough of this – quite frankly I had enough of this back when it started. As one of the “accused by extension” I was/am very angry at a public affront to my ethics. That’s water under the bridge now. This has turned into a very public personal vendetta between two seemingly mature adults. I wholeheartedly agree with Janet that the public airing of personal correspondence is a very, very dangerous thing. In fact, throughout this entire discussion/rant/thread, it is this threat of making private correspondence public that I find most deplorable. You can spin this “public airing” any way you want to, but the end result will be the same. The only winners will be the gawkers who get a vicarious thrill out of watching this “train wreck”.

It’s over. Let it go.

7/13/2007 5:14 PM

 

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