presenting… The Information Hallway!

Still so sure it’s a better place to introduce people to fractal art than the (now old-fashioned) information highway –the internet?

The recently released photos of the Benoit Mandelbrot Fractal Art Contest Exhibition really underline what I’ve been saying for years:  no offline anything can compare with the internet for introducing people to fractal art and showcasing the best examples.

BMFAC exhibition, Hyderabad, India, 2010, (photo published by Esin Turkakin)

And the photos also emphasise something I’ve been saying: offline exhibitions are always tied to the personal agendas of the organizers and sponsors and the artwork (and the audience) suffers for it.  At least they suffer until they go home and start searching the information highway.

The Information Hallway, on the other hand, as expensive and complicated as it is to bring about , is so ineffective in every way.  It’s limited in what it shows: 25 works chosen not from all that the fractal art world has to offer but from what those who cared to enter the contest thought would impress the eclectic (dream team) of judges.  Right off the bat the exhibition is behind the eight ball because, by design, they must passively attend to only what the contestants give them.

And who’s walking down The Information Hallway anyhow?  Math professors and other greats of this highly esteemed and highly un-artistic group of professionals.  And as I mentioned once before, these people don’t have internet access or haven’t seen any fractal graphics before?  They’re hardly the type of people an advertising campaign would target to promote fractal art, or any other art genre.  Benoit Mandelbrot might have had a (passing) interest in the artistic application of fractal geometry, but that was years ago when fractals were fresh and revolutionary.  The world of mathematics professionals is not the place to sow the seeds of fractal art –the art world is!  Should that surprise you?

Jeremie Brunet (aka “bib”) recently had a (somewhat low-key) exhibition of his fractal artwork in a gallery in Paris and I think his approach was categorically better and about as effective as any offline fractal art event could be.

Jeremie displayed:

  • a whole bunch of his own work
  • to an artsy crowd
  • in an artsy venue
  • without distraction
  • got on television
  • shared photos and video online
  • and didn’t present himself as the best and the greatest (or wear a beret and speak with a French accent)

Compared the the great BMFAC with all it’s pomp, ceremony, famous selection committee and big sponsors, Jeremie Brunet’s low profile, one-man exhibition was a much smaller stone to drop in the ocean and yet it produced an much larger splash than the near-secret BMFAC did.   Why?  Because he presented artwork to an artwork loving crowd.  Mathematicians are boneheads when it comes to art.  That’s why they aren’t in an arsty profession, they’re mathematicians –academics and theorists.

A small television crew even came to interview Jeremie in the gallery with his work and he posted it on for all to see.  The BMFAC?  We had to beg the winners to show us some photos just to verify the exhibition actually happened (six months after).

Anyhow, the way other people are going to discover fractal art is probably the same way almost every fractal artist discovered it:  on the internet.  Go ahead and have offline exhibitions if the idea excites you.  But just remember that while you’re planning (and spending your money) for that offline event, more people are stumbling across fractal art for the first time on the internet than will ever attend your offline exhibition even if it was held for a year and advertised on billboards.

The Information Hallway, as we’ve seen from all the publicity surrounding the BMFAC 2010 exhibition (that’s sarcasm) is a good place to hide fractal art and an excellent choice of an audience if what you want is exuberant secrecy.  Meanwhile, the good old information highway keeps on rolling, 24/7, 365 days of the year.  Fractal artists ought to think about that venue.

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3 thoughts on “presenting… The Information Hallway!

  1. I hate to repeat myself but I feel forced to do so. It’s funny how you pretend that this exhibit (and the other smaller ones in Europe) were the only places the images could be seen. The offline exhibitions were additions on top of the online exhibit. The images – all entries as well as the winners- as you very well know, have been available online quite visibly since the day the winners were announced. I had personal inquiries about my art, most of which had found me through the contest website. So you can’t really say the contest didn’t utilize the internet. You can say it didn’t use the offline world as well as it could have, but considering that this was done at no cost on the artists’ part, I can say the current efforts were more than I expected. Better venues and better audiences cost money. I can’t imagine a feasible way of doing that with a contest with free entry and no sponsors (although a BMFAC contest with an entry fee (or any involvement of money at all) would cause enough material for the blog and our entertainment for at least two years).

  2. Thanks Tim for giving some visibility to my modest event of last month. I wish it could have happened in a separate blog post and not in the context of the “breaking news: 2 BMFAC pictures from India are finally online” story, but it’s better than nothing. That said, I’m gonna have some red wine and camembert :) Santé!

  3. Nice to see the photograph, thanks for that. Interesting also to gain visual evidence that the pictures were framed behind glass. Unless new pictures were prepared for each of the distant venues the entire set must have journeyed over three different continents without damage. That is quite a feat, and might give courage for people to exhibit individual works more widely.

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