The BMFAC Exhibition Begins? Who Knew?

How's My Exhibiting?  Call 1-800-FIND-BMFAC

I’m just like the Olympic torch.  I travel the world, and no one knows my route in advance.

[Promotional poster for the 2009 Benoit Mandelbrot Fractal Art Contest Exhibition.  Image seen on Sandra Reid’s blog.]

Apparently, the 2009 Benoit Mandelbrot Fractal Art Contest Exhibition has begun. Of course, you’d never know this from checking the main BMFAC site, which remains as silent and dead as the audience at a screening of MacGruber. I have to ask again: Why is BMFAC co-director Damien M. Jones so consistently secretive and publicity-averse?

It appears one has to actually be a contest winner to receive any dribble of detail about the exhibition.  It was only by hunting and gathering at a few of the 2009 BMFAC winners’ virtual hang-outs that I could ferret out any information all at about the whats and whens of the exhibition(s).

A good place to start seemed to be Dave Makin’s Facebook page.  Why?  Because Makin, a three-time BMFAC winner, is one to never shy away from gratuitous self-promotion (as seen by his recent horn-tooting on a Benoit Mandelbrot Facebook page.)  Makin’s page showcases three YouTube videos of Spanish television coverage of the BMFAC exhibit in Bilbao.  This exhibition, according to BMFAC winner Sandra Reid’s blog, took place at the Universidad de Pais Vasco (University of the Basque Country) and ran from May 11th to May 21st (sorry — you already missed it).  The videos feature BMFAC co-director Javier Barrallo discussing the exhibit.  Close-ups of the art are seen — as well as long shots of the exhibition, and an excerpt of an animated 3D Mandelbulb created by Krzysztof Marczak is also shown.

Here are the three videos pertaining to the exhibition:

But wait.  Moving on to BMFAC winner Nicholas Rougeux’s c82 blog, we learn that there was a previous BMFAC exhibition in San Sebastián that ostensibly ran from April 26th to May 4th (sorry — again — you really already missed it).  Here’s a photo from Rougeux’s blog:

We were just hanging around.  Where were you?

The BMFAC Exhibit in San Sebastián.

Rougeux also points out that the exhibit will travel to Buenos Aires this month and then move on (as advertised) to Hyderabad, India, for the 2010 International Congress of Mathematicians on August 19–27.

Even a few of the competition’s winners seem surprised to learn of some of these turns of events — like OT’s old friend and deviantART’s master of masters Fiery-Fire (Iwona Fido) who appeared taken aback on her redbubble page to receive an email containing the videos of the Bilbao exhibit — but quickly uploads them (again) to YouTube “in order to show-off ROFL !!!”

Stay classy and humble, Ms. Fire

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So, let’s review the good news here:

–TV coverage.  Cool.
–Multiple venues.  Neat.
–BMFAC judges’ work still not included in the exhibition (so far).  Outstanding.

But I do have a few questions and concerns.  Like:

–How come so many people are going to have to hear about all of this from Orbit Trap?  Why isn’t the main BMFAC site all over this news?  Why has even the formerly official organ of all things BMFAC — that is, the Ultra Fractal Mailing List — not been discussing the now-suddenly-plural exhibition(s)?  Or, according to the contest co-directors,  is the majority of the fractal community seen as being on a strictly need-to-know basis?

–Who’s paying for all of this?  Like the different exhibition spaces?  Like the freight charges to ship the show around Spain, then to Latin America, then over to India?  Did the sponsors in India foot the printing costs, so the other venues could display the prints for free?  Who’s making the calls and paying the costs here?

–Is this why the 2009 BMFAC was held so far in advance of the announced August 2010 exhibition in India?  Because there were a number of earlier, additional exhibitions planned as well?  If so, why weren’t these other shows announced at the time of the competition?  And if the other exhibitions fell into place later, then why keep so tight-lipped about this development?

–Although, as seen in photos of the San Sebastián show on Rougeux’s site, some of the prints are fairly large, most are merely medium-sized — which comes as a puzzler given the contest rules that all entries needed to weigh in at an unwavering, gigantic 8000 pixels to be eligible for the contest. I’ve made larger prints than many I saw in the photos and videos at less than half that size.  This incongruity just further feeds my gut instinct that the file sizes are deliberately made monolithic to privilege one of the co-director’s pet programs — Ultra Fractal.  If you aren’t going to print everything big as a barn door, then why insist all entries must be massive?

–Why are all of the prints for the exhibit made on canvas?  Aren’t Giclée (ink-jet) paper prints, using archival inks and papers, the common standard for making fine arts prints from a digital source for a museum setting?  Even Wikipedia thinks so and flatly notes:

Artists generally use Giclée inkjet printing to make reproductions of their original two-dimensional artwork, photographs or computer-generated art.

–What’s with the poster boards and blue backgrounds at the Bilbao show?  Isn’t a white (or maybe black) background conventionally used for exhibitions to cut down on color clash?

–Why is there nothing about the India exhibition on the 2010 ICM web site?  A search of every variant of the phrase benoit mandelbrot fractal art contest turns up zip.

–It looks to me like the real winner of the 2009 BMFAC is — the animated Mandelbulb.  Isn’t that the image that got the most TV screen time?  And, to think, the poor thing wasn’t even entered.

And how about we end this post with two new OT contests of our own (and, hey, we won’t even impose any entry size restrictions):

First, guess where the BMFAC exhibit will unexpectedly turn up in July.  1st prize?  An honorable mention!!

Second, guess who will circumstantially be BMFAC’s newest surprise sponsor next week.  Hint: it rhymes with “Argentina”!!

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A tip of the hat here to Tim.

Update: Corrected a misspelled name.

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3 thoughts on “The BMFAC Exhibition Begins? Who Knew?

  1. I couldn’t care less about this (non)event, even if i was a “well known” fractal mastah. But … why do you seem so angry about this exhibition ?

  2. Good point about the Mandelbulb animation : probably the first time on TV.

    And I am curious to know your opinion about the fact that there is an Apophysis demo in the first video (and not UF).

  3. I agree that even contest participants didn’t know a lot about when and where these exhibits were being held–at least I didn’t. Seeing a calendar with addresses, pictures, videos etc. on the BMFAC site would be a nice way to promote the events and encourage more participation in future contests. Without knowing how the site’s maintained, I can’t explain why they aren’t though.

    Always enjoy reading your posts. By the way, it’s “Rougeux”–no “a” :)

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