An "Our Ears Are Burning" Update

I’ve been experiencing hot flashes around the ears lately. I think a round-up of the latest buzz reactions to Orbit Trap might be in order.

Let’s start with Keith MacKay’s most recent exercise in pouting:

It looks like Orbit Trap is taking credit for ridding the Internet of the most recent calendar images. I suppose that they could be right by taking credit. I do not know why the calendar web site was modified but I do know why I removed my images from my sites. It was because of OT but not because of their criticism. I can handle criticism. Art is subjective and everyone is entitled to their own opinion. Besides, if it comes from someone that I do not respect, it is easy to ignore.

The calendar images are governed by contract law as well as copyright law. I removed my images in order to maintain control over them. I felt like I needed to do that after OT ignored my 2 requests to remove my image. They are blowing their horn because they think that it was their criticism that caused the removal. I do not know about the calendar website, but for my part this is not the case. OT reminded me that Internet is not a safe place to put property that should be protected.

What’s that smell in the air? Could it be hypocrisy? If MacKay really believes the Internet is “not a safe place” in which to display “property that should be protected,” then he should consider immediately removing all of his art work from the web. Is his gallery at Renderosity, for example, any more “protected” than the Fractal Universe Calendar site? Aren’t his images just as much at risk there and elsewhere from being used as part of an art review? If he chooses to place his art in public, he — or any artist — will unremittingly run a risk that such displayed work could be used as part of a public commentary — and not necessarily a positive one.

It is easy to forget such hazards if one becomes accustomed to being safely nestled in the loving arms of a Fractalbook art community where every new post is swooned over and reaffirmed as a work of genius. Apparently, in MacKay’s worldview, images need no protection as long as they are placed in an environment filled with verbal hugs and kisses. One wonders if MacKay would be as quick to cry foul if OT had posted a positive review of his work. If so, did he also object when this blog used several of his images in their review? I see no notice that his art was used with permission, and I find no comment from MacKay demanding “protection” for his property. It certainly looks like MacKay requests removal of his images only when they are used in a less than positive context.

Finally, and let’s be clear here, Orbit Trap has done nothing wrong under the “fair use” clause of copyright law. Here is an excerpt from the Copyright and Fair Use site at Stanford University:

Fair use is a copyright principle based on the belief that the public is entitled to freely use portions of copyrighted materials for purposes of commentary and criticism. For example, if you wish to criticize a novelist, you should have the freedom to quote a portion of the novelist’s work without asking permission. Absent this freedom, copyright owners could stifle any negative comments about their work.

MacKay says he can “handle criticism,” but it looks to me like he’d much rather stifle it. Note this statement: “I removed my images in order to maintain control over them.” Control. That says it all. MacKay is confusing control over his images with the public’s constitutional freedom to comment on and criticize those same images. MacKay wants an audience, but only one that behaves the way he likes. The fair use provisions of copyright law were written precisely to counter this sort of manipulation of free speech.


Meanwhile, former heckler WelshWench still has plenty to say about Orbit Trap. In fact, she seems to be devoting much of her blog space to our many atrocities. I’d provide a link, except I worry about being held responsible for our faithful readers risking losing trillions of brain cells. Well, if you dare, there’s always Google. Here’s a short sampler of her latest rant:

The question always raised by OT’s smug expressions of superiority is why on earth do they insist on complaining about styles of art they personally dislike? Because that’s all it is: they’re not any more qualified to pass opinions than you, gentle reader, or I — unless it is a personal opinion. They wish to be arbiters of taste: well, wouldn’t we all? Wouldn’t life just be hunky-dory if we never had to rest our eyes on images we find unpleasant, trite, poorly composed or coloured? Goodness: if that happy day ever came to pass I wouldn’t have to look at any more of OT’s own efforts!

There’s that same smell again. Follow along, if your eyes aren’t glazed over yet. We at Orbit Trap aren’t “more qualified to pass opinions” than you? As far as I can tell, all we’ve ever offered on this blog is a “personal opinion.” But, gentle reader, by her own logic, what makes WelshWench more qualified than you to devote half her blog to passing opinions on us? You see what I mean? It’s a blogging-from-glass-houses kind of deal. Or maybe a judge-not-lest-ye-be-judged thingie.

And, as far as I know, no one has WelshWench strapped in a chair, like Malcolm MacDowell in Clockwork Orange, with her eyes pried open impelling her to look at Orbit Trap’s “efforts.” Assert your forceful will, assuaged Wench. Ignore us — and your “happy day” will soon arrive. Oh. But wait. What would you then have to write about?

This is what I get for insisting on complaining about styles of art criticism I personally dislike!!


Orbit Trap got the following write-up in the links section of High Precision Deep Zoom:

If you thought this was a calm, benign field, think again. This blog offers a completely, totally different perspective on fractal art by commentators who are clearly not afraid to speak their minds. Like it or not, this blog advocates (somewhat viciously at times) for the continued progression of the art and shows no mercy.

Advocating a “continued progression” of fractal art is no cakewalk — especially when one considers the prevailing and entrenched hierarchy, the perks enjoyed by the favored few via corrupt competitions, and the fuzzy snuggly rampant kitsch and sycophantic backslapping overrunning the Fractalbook art communities. Sorry about that claim of viciousness. A deep zoom of OT’s archives will show we have only responded in the same manner that we were greeted and treated.


Update: It has been brought to my attention that MacKay left the following comment in the blog I referenced that also posted several of his images for review purposes:

I’m glad that you like my images, but it would have been nice to know that you were putting them here. It’s not a problem. I just like to know where my stuff is. Thanks.

Translation: MacKay likes the fact that the guy thinks he’s great. MacKay doesn’t like the fact that the guy didn’t book an appointment with him in advance to tell him he’s great.

Bottom Line: If a review is positive, even though permission was not granted, the use of MacKay’s art is “not a problem.” However, if a review is negative, then MacKay’s requests for immediate removal begin to pour in. Control, it seems, is situational and very tone-sensitive.

And speaking of liking to know where stuff is…

Where, exactly, did the images selected for the 2009 and 2010 editions of the Fractal Universe Calendar go? And, more to the point, why were these images abruptly removed — without any explanation — from the calendar’s web site?

, , , , , , , , , , , ,