Wednesday, February 25, 2009

My What a Big Fractal You Have #3

Now, back to my sculpture of Jupiter made from Doritos...

I and my superior aesthetics cough faintly in the face of your antiseptic algorithms.

[Photograph by theveryquietroom]


Maybe you're right. It's all about the math. Our art form traditionally privileges the scientific mind of the programmer and needs only dribbled gifts from mathematicians to move forward with formulaic self-expression. Any art that results is just another random variable in the string of the theorem -- relentlessly abstract and utterly meaningless. And, above all, nothing need ever be deliberately shaped for fear of contaminating the purity of the equation.

There's no point in naming images because that's somehow unsporting. The practice fringes on insulting the viewer by having the gall to steer her so roughly into interpretation and rudely intruding on her free associative aesthetic experience. Better to call all of our images simply by integers. RandomFrac436778X should insure that no one will wander into thematic or moral reflection. Leave all that photorealism crap to Lewis Hines and metaphorical animal fables.

And never nudge your fractal into political or social commentary -- or, by extension, to suggest anything at all about RL or everyday experience or personal emotions or everlasting truths or stuff remotely tangible whatsoever -- because any suggestion of deliberative intent infringes on "the beauty of mathematical/algorithmic imagery."

So, yeah, you're probably right. I think we should all follow your advice to rid the fractal world of that "disease" infecting all that we do: art. It must be fully expunged. Who wants to be a part of that world anyway? We all know it's filled with pompous fools wearing berets and jabbering about pretentious bullshit. We don't need that mock hipster scene. After all, it would contaminate us. Flee from the museums like you would anthrax. Our wired trenches of individual galleries are more than enough to sustain us. We'll always have our ever multiplying Fractalbook "friends" and cuddly algorithms to comfort our recursive spirits. We swear it here and now. We'll never allow our sacrosanct parameter files to become diluted enough to become a part of that artsy fartsy world.


And if that is the prevailing attitude of our community, it will be a self-fulfilling prophecy. After waves of purity purges, the artists will trickle out beyond our borders for the bluer, more open skies of digital art. And only the fractalists will remain. But they won't be fractal artists. They'll just be fractal makers. How is all. What is irrelevant. Because making the fractal correctly without contaminants will be imperative. The fractal solution, so to speak. And just count all the insurgents to lock away: filters, titles, representation, even art itself now. The triumph of the form. The extermination of all content.


Remember my continuum? It wasn't a hierarchy. FRACTAL wasn't at the bottom and ART at the top. It was deliberately a horizontal line, not a vertical one. There was no judgment implied. There were only choices to be made.

And I think this gets us to the main difference in our views. You fall on the line much closer to FRACTAL (Math). And I fall much closer to ART (Disease). In the end, I agree with Jim Muth. We both are on the same team, but we have very different ideas about how to win the game.


I gotta say it though: I actually think your views are the prevailing ones, which is why I've always felt like an outsider in this community -- and why I no longer even call myself a fractal artist. I've heard every one of those whispers about post-processing being cheating. It's giving in to the disease. It's destroying the innate beauty. It's exposing those precious math-given fractal forms to the germs of art. Careful, or our once perfect algorithmic expression is going to catch something. Something like art. And there's no coming back from that un-iteration to the bloom of ever being antibacterial again.


But here's my problem. In creative writing, inspiration is real enough but too rare to be dependable. You have to put in the drudge time, the laborious revision, the tinkering with time-tested literary devices. If you don't, well, enjoy that mostly empty notebook.

Likewise, I can't count on my every algorithmic tinker and tweak being a masterpiece -- contrary to some Fractalbook cross talk. I don't have the advantage of being either a math geek or a programmer, so I have to work -- consciously and deliberately -- at getting results that please me. So I put in the time using what I know about the elements of design -- you know, those building blocks from way back when for producing something artistic.

I worry that limiting one's intent to only showing "the beauty of mathematical/algorithmic imagery" at the expense of titling and political commentary and emotional suggestion and now even art itself is probably what got us in this whole mess in the first place. I'd say Fractalbook is filled to the virtual rafters with fractalized flotsam cranked out on the assembly lines to satisfy precisely that prime directive.

And that proof might show the eventual shackles of monitor mode. You can always be a maker but rarely a shaker. For me, anyway, that way madness, or at least atrophy, lies.

Or, worse, handcuffs and blindfolds. I confess. I seek a deliberative and shaping hand beyond the algorithms. And I accept my shunning from our community as one of the diseased and now disbarred, as well as the loss of my title as "fractal artist." A "digital artist" I guess I will be. I suppose I should turn in my keypad for this blog and remove my membership from assorted fractal communities and forums.

What's that? Do I hear faint cheers in the background?

Or...maybe it's time for more of us to move on to wall mode. To embrace the opportunities the fine arts provide rather than just flirt with their amenities while cursing their foibles as both tawdry and beneath us. To consistently kick sand in the face of the fine arts could be risky. Unless you enjoy being called a fractal craftsman. For. A. Very. Very. Long. Time.

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Blogger Philip Northover said...

Heh, not many programmers have scientific minds, and fractal math is high school level algebra, not very hard. Art, well there you go. All things to all people.

I'd say never nudge your fractal into political or social commentary when your target or their supporters have right of reply, unless you actually want the feedback and feel like arguing it out.

You're still much too sensitive about the post-processing. They're just trolling you.

I'd be sorry if you gave up this blog. I use it to keep up with things in the fractal art world. You and Tim are good writers.

2/26/2009 9:23 AM


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