Guerrilla Fractals?

Bee Pole by the Jafagirls

Bee Pole by The Jafagirls

No review this week. But will you settle for a meditation instead?

If we assume that fractal art is indeed a legitimate fine art form — and I do — then every facet of fine art must be open to fractal art. I’ve argued in a previous OT post that fractal art can be used for political expression. Guido Cavalcante, in another early OT post, advocated using fractals for social commentary and for “making the hidden visible.” And Tim has shown, in a meta sense, that digital art can even be utilized to hold a mirror up to the fractal community.

But can fractal art max out with perfect subversiveness? Can fractals be used for guerrilla art?

Lenin with Mittens

Lenin with Mittens

[Photo by majorbonnet.]

Some artistic genres that were once perceived as more suited for the craft section of the remaindered bin have come out swinging. The knitting community, in particular, has long showed a penchant for creating and displaying art using guerrilla tactics. Rose White, who lectures on the history of guerilla knitting, summarizes her talk as follows:

Contemporary knitters feel very clever for coming up with edgy language to describe their knitting, but the truth is that for decades there have been knitters and other textile artists who are at least as punk rock as today’s needle-wielders.

Knit Tank by Mariann Joergensen

Knit Tank by Marianne Joergensen (and 1000 volunteers)

Any artistic movement faces certain struggles and some internal criticism when being born. Apparently, according to a post on 24c3 entitled “The History of Guerrilla Knitting,” the crucial turning point for knitters came at the close of the 1960s:

Another schism happened at the end of the ’60s and beginning ’70s. Then enters our heroine: Elizabeth Zimmermann. She was commissioned to make a sweater. She gave it to the company but they re-wrote the patterns using a proprietary system. Disgusted by the process, she started her own company and she’d invite knitters to be the boss of their knitting, distinguishing the “blind followers” from the “thinking knitters.” The point was to put the control of what was going on back into the hands of the knitter. It’s like Linux versus Windows.

Sound familiar? Fractal art is waiting for a similar transformational break. The prevailing monarchy — with its de rigueur software (UF) and its corrupt, self-serving contests (BMFAC, the FUC) — constitute our comparable “proprietary system.” These Fractal CEOs create competitions designed to first and foremost highlight their own art, then claim in subsequent publicity materials to be showcasing “high quality works by the most important fractal artists in the world.” Even OT disliker Ken Childress catapulted such propaganda again last week on his blog (no link):

UF is the program of choice for many of those who are the most respected fractal artists today.

And Childress proves this claim by … simply making the claim — as if saying so makes any utterance true, just like judging a fractal contest that includes your own work makes you respectable and “important.” Meanwhile, Childress gets to hang out with the self-selected Kewl Kidz in the Fractal McMansion. Why rock the boat when you’re sitting on a velvet cushion in it?

So, it looks like we are at a crossroads. And here’s the question of the hour. Are you a “blind follower”? Or are you a “thinking” fractal artist?

Cosies for Anchors 1Cosies for Anchors

Cosies for Anchors by Maskerade

In many ways, the textile and fiber arts have a head start, but there are encouraging signs. Rose Rushbrooke continues to break new ground with her fractal quilts. Eleanor Kent uses knitting needles and photocopiers for her fractal-laced textile creations. Other fiber artists, like Lesley Kice, create installations exhibiting fractal properties like self-similarity. And if you prefer wearing your art, Evil Mad Scientist Laboratories will gladly show you how to make your own fractal earrings.

Knitting Machine by Dave Cole

Knitting Machine by Dave Cole

Can fractal artists push the guerrilla envelope? Do we have our own Banksy? And what forms will these fractal guerrilla excursions take? Hacking websites to insert fractal art pop-ups? Quats made with Play-Doh left conspicuously in daycare centers? Wearing cauliflower buds in our suit lapels instead of carnations?

Who in our community will step up? Or is someone already mining this territory? And, please, you won’t convince me the many CafePress commercialistic offerings of fractal thongs can be called erotic sorties into the battleground of guerrilla foreplay.

Back with another more review-type post soon. In the meantime, how about a little music?

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4 thoughts on “Guerrilla Fractals?

  1. Wow…I’ve never been compared to Lenin before, either directly or indirectly. But, for what it’s worth, I welcome a nice pair of red mittens or a cosy on my fractal anchor.

  2. Kerry,

    Are you paranoid — or just in need of brushing up on your critical reading skills? I use a photo of a statue of Lenin as an example of guerrilla art — and you somehow think I’m comparing you to him? Calling Carly Simon…

    In truth, since you are a BMFAC judge, you were actually indirectly referenced in the paragraph about the crooked contests like BMFAC where ethically-challenged judges (pay attention now because this is the part about you) unprofessionally use the ruse of a competition to self-select and exhibit their own work. Moreover, as a UF enthusiast-teacher-apologist, I somehow doubt you’ll be enlisting anytime soon to spur on the revolution to overthrow the existing power structure in the fractal art community.

    And I wouldn’t get my hopes up about receiving any gifts made of yarn either. No cosy could possibly be knitted to a small enough scale to accommodate your “fractal anchor.”

  3. My bad–I figured that I was part of the corrupt establishment against which guerrilla fractals would be rebelling. Sorry for the misunderstanding.

    Corruption, small cosies, and innuendo aside, I really do welcome challenges to any fractal establishment (perceived or actual). More perspectives, paradigms, and platforms can only strengthen the community.


    I’m sorry, but I don’t know which contest/exhibition you’re referring to.

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