If you’ve been following my recent revolutionary thoughts about fractal art you may have noticed a few comments posted by readers here and in other venues relating to emotional experiences and feelings triggered by fractal images. Such things are important from my revolutionary perspective because they appear to refute my theory that fractal art is mentally empty.
One the the main tenets of my artistic uprising is that fractals alone, “raw fractals” computed from parameter settings, are such a rigid graphical medium that they don’t allow the artist enough involvement and direction in the creative process to produce works that express feelings and ideas in the way that painters and even photographers can. The fractal medium frustrates human expression so to speak, rather than facilitate it. Fractals are a completely different kind of imagery, completely artificial and best appreciated for its weirdness and supreme alien character.
In fact what I’m saying is that the fractal medium is for all intents and purposes dead to such things as human expression and commentary. Things which have been the main themes in (finer) art up to this point in time. Attempts to use fractals to convey human feelings, thoughts, ideas and just about anything else that originates in the experience of being alive is a waste of time and the source of innumerable pieces of bad art. And so I say… it isn’t going to work, give it up!
But in the interests of fomenting creative insurrection in the fractal art world, or at least more enlightened thinking about fractal art, I think I ought to respond to these suggestions that fractals have already been doing the sort of emotional expression that I (boldly) said they will never be able to do.
I will start by disqualifying most of what my critics are claiming to be works of “emotional expression” by saying that sentimentality is not the sort of higher art material that I was talking about in the first place. Sentimental feelings, although nice and pleasant and definitely a type of emotional expression, are not substantial or important enough to be the subject of “fine” art (the good stuff).
bleeding heart A person of excessive and emotive compassion; one of undue sentimentality, whose heart strings quiver at the slightest provocation. This figurative phrase is of relatively recent origin:
You want to think straight, Victor. You want to control this bleeding-heart trouble of yours. (J. Bingham, Murder Plan Six, 1958)
hearts and flowers An expression or display of cloying sentimentality intended to elicit sympathy; sob stuff, excessive sentimentalism or mushiness; maudlinism. This American slang phrase was originally the title of a mawkishly sad, popular song of 1910.
sob story A very gloomy story; a sad tale designed to elicit the compassion and sympathy of the listener; a tear-jerker. This common, self-explanatory expression often applies to an alibi or excuse. It also frequently describes the narrative recounting of the trials, frustrations, and disappointments of one’s life.
How anyone could heed such a sob story is beyond me. (Los Angeles Times, June, 1949)
Fractals that give you that “Christmas Tree” kind of feeling, or ones that remind you of a cat sleeping in front of a fireplace are just sentimental. A well stocked cupboard or a reupholstered couch can do the same thing. Joy amidst defeat; dark victory; the futility of everything; irony; heart of darkness… –these are the kinds of emotions I’m thinking of when I speak of fine art vs. decorative art.
Sentimentality I would say, following my decorative vs. fine art dichotomy, is “decorative” emotion as opposed to the “fine art” emotions that I just listed. How does one express dark victory, a sense of great loss amidst the reality of success with fractals? In Goya’s greatest scenes we seem to see… nothing that you’d expect to find in Ultra Fractal!
~Click on images to view full size on original site~
Not even the most carefully crafted bifurcation fractal can come close to expressing what Goya has done here. These are the powerful, complex emotions of fine art works. (It’s also part of a larger series of works.) Here’s an example by an equally
talented skilful painter that evokes and expresses plenty of emotion, except it’s all sentimentality (maybe even cheap sentimentality?).
If Thomas Kinkade is the “Painter of Light”, then Goya is the Painter of Darkness. (To be honest, I’d rather have the kitschy Cinderella picture hanging in my dining room, but there’s a very enlightening lesson in Goya’s grim ink sketch reminding us that war gives opportunity to evil things.) Goya’s work is fine art while Kinkade’s is sentimentality at it’s “best”: emotion as decoration. Fine art is sometimes ugly to look at while decorative art, as its name suggests, is always pleasing and beaut-i-fying.
How about Claude Monet? The water lillies guy. I actually bought a print of this painting here and hung it up in my residence room in university (years ago). Have you every seen a fractal image that expressed such a peaceful, soothing and joyful feeling as this? Maybe you think you have. But can I call this “fine” art, or finer art, or is it just simply my own personal preference in sentimentality and decoration? Was Monet simply the Thomas Kinkade of the last century?
Sentimentality is superficial emotion. It’s shallow, trivial experience. So I guess fractal art that expresses emotion can’t be considered fine art if those emotions are shallow and trivial. “Cute” is shallow and so is anything that elicits a mild response. Fine art deals with emotions of substance and complexity. The Mona Lisa, for example, almost qualifies as sentimentality except for the fact that the famous smile is complicated and nuanced. If she had a typical smile (or no shirt on) it would be a great work of sentimentality not art.
If it’s any comfort to those of you who feel hurt that I’ve dismissed all of fractal art as decorative art/design then you may be delighted to hear that Monet’s Coquelicots (Poppys) has just been tossed into the same category as you. I don’t put all of Monet’s work there, and I should add that I really like his Poppys painting (I bought a print, remember?) but it’s nothing more than just a really beautiful image of nature.
If someone was holding both Monet’s and Goya’s images over a fire and asked me to chose which image was was more worthy of being spared destruction I’d say Goya’s because it’s a rare and powerful artwork of great moral merit rebuking our illusions of what war is. What Monet has captured in his painting can be recaptured on any nice summer day by going for a walk in the country. (As for the Kinkade one, I’d say “Hey, don’t forget this one!”)
Fractal artists work with formulas and their parameters and so you can’t expect such imagery to depict the same sorts of themes as painters do because painters form all of the image themselves and make the image do and be whatever they imagine (and have the talent to render). We can’t expect fractals to portray the products of the human imagination, or even the the complex human emotions we ourselves experience everyday.
Some fractal images do, however, portray emotion it’s the shallow kind of emotion which I call sentimentality. I suppose I really ought to show a few examples of this fractal sentimentality to complete things, but I’ve insulted enough people for one posting already. On the other hand, if you really want to see “good” examples of this type of lower-class emotional expression, in the spirit of Thomas Kinkade, I can’t think of anyone better than this Prestigious Fractal Artist.