In Part 1 I had said that Part 2 would be the Guild in action, but I think I need to clarify this whole notion of a Fractal Art Guild a bit better before going on. I really think most of the fractal art world functions like a large association of craftsmen whose closest analogy would be a medieval guild. I emphasize the world “functions” because the members of this guild do not formally identify with such an association. In fact, the idea that they’re all part of some guild-like structure probably sounds semi-insane to them or conspiratorial. But that’s because the 21st century online world has changed the way people associate and similarly changes the appearance of such associations that they often aren’t recognized as formal associations even thought that’s exactly how they function.
The Fractal Art Guild is informal. One’s membership is really nothing more that an attitude of cooperation and agreement. This shared interest in the things of the Guild is the only thing that defines it in the online context. But that’s all it really needs because ultimately the Guild is a collection of like-minded people, not an ideology or constitution. Membership is dedication to the group and this sort of friendship association appeals very much to people today and functions easily in an online context of email, chat, forums, and mailing lists. It’s the daily or regular online interaction with the Guild which serves to initiate, maintain and renew one’s membership in the Guild as well as to foster it’s development taking eager members to higher levels. The online environment creates a sort of dynamic, living association which makes the traditional, formal indicators of membership: applications; membership cards; meetings; newsletters; and annual dinners look trivial and superficial –mere tokens of membership. In the online environment where people network on a daily or even hourly basis, membership is proven and demonstrated (or disproven and betrayed) in a much more meaningful way that it is in offline groups where interaction between most members is remote and occasional.
I said, the things of the Guild, I should explain that. The interests of the Guild, as I see it (am I the only one who sees it?), are:
- Producing fractal art of high complexity and graphical sophistication
- Ultra Fractal and all things UF-related (to put it bluntly)
- Promoting the mastery of UF
- Showing respect for UF Master Craftsmen and trying to learn from them
- Promoting the use of UF as the apex in fractal art software
- Defending the reputation of UF and it’s Master Craftsmen (post Orbit Trap)
- If you’ve got a problem, just leave, don’t make a scene
- Anyone can join
I know, maybe it sounds like another one of my anti-UF diatribes… But it’s not. It’s more complex than that. It’s not “us vs. them”. Remember how I said, “One’s membership is really nothing more that an attitude of cooperation and agreement” ? A number of the Master Craftsmen of the Guild made Ultra Fractal (contributed in some way, large or small) and they promote it’s use and try to aid others in learning how to use it better because that’s the sort of tool they admire. They like fractal art that is complex and very, very graphically refined and sophisticated –slick and professional. It’s purely a matter of personal preference and that’s the kind of art they prefer and the kind of software needed to make it. The Guild thinks that the best fractal art –the most impressive fractal art– is the kind that the Master Craftsmen in the Guild make. It’s this sort of common cause and shared interest that holds them together and attracts apprentices (newcomers of similar bent) to them. Like-mindedness is what it’s all about, not coercion or intimidation.
I know it’s a lot to swallow all at once. It took me a few years, so I don’t expect to hear others shouting “Eureka!” right away. In fact, I suspect most fractal artists don’t really care about these “online social structures” at all. But they will when they read the next part, Part 3.
You may have noticed my heavy use of the term, “Craft”. Sharp members of the audience will suspect I’ve got a reason for not using the more common expression, Art or Artist. You see the Guild structure isn’t just about building up a community of artists around the use of UF and supporting the attempt of others to develop their mastery of it. The type of hegemonic and class-based organization that all guilds have, along with it’s amazing stability, is a direct result of their common pursuit of craft as opposed to art. Art is too much of a hot potato for any big group to handle for very long without self-destructing. The Guild members, from the smallest to the greatest, all have the heart of a craftsman. Not surprisingly, they also have the minds and values of craftsmen too. And what’s that? It’s coming up next…
Part 3: Artists and Craftsmen: What’s the Difference?