Fractals That Suck Redux — Part One

You bad ol' thwief!!

Bad ol’ weviewer! You fwighten me! You make my widdle heart quiver!

Image by James Cauty.  Seen on Uncertain Times.

Well, I certainly started a buzz with my last post.  I feel like I kicked a beehive after poking the queen bee in the eye with a white-hot branding iron.

I guess that’s what happens when the plastic bubble that encases Fractalbook is punctured and popped.  Here’s a recap.  I stumbled into an article on deviantART called “People who’s [sic] Fractals SUCKED!!!  The compiler, Fiery-Fire, who says she prefers I use her real name, Iwona Fido, and who is (anyone surprised?) a 2009 Benoit Mandelbrot Fractal Art Contest winner, set out to show the difference in the skill level of images made early vs. recently in the “careers” of various DA members that she unironically dubbed fractal “masters or wizards.”  However, I reviewed what turned out to be only the first of three articles in a series (with a fourth surely in the works), and Ms. Fire, in a DA comment, was quick to point out how dull-witted OT was not to have noticed the article some months earlier

Well….it did take them [Orbit Trap] almost 8months to find the article :lmao: So they not the brightest bunch :D

as if Tim and I stay on constant DEFCON 1, 24/7, scouring for the appearance of every new, neuron-strangling back-slap or kiss-up taking place in DA’s Fractal Clique Central.  The discovery of two additional Suck vs. Rock compilations means that my initial count of 21 “masters” was far too modest.  There are actually, according to Ms. Fire, 70 (and counting) fractal art “masters” — which I think is more than the number of artistic masters, in all other disciplines combined, listed in Heinrich Wolfflin’s Principles of Art History.

What I saw in that first article was a microcosm of most of the contemporary fractal scene’s ills — like (and try reading the rest of this paragraph quickly…like a pitchman’s rapid-fire delivery of disclaimers at the end of a TV commercial) valuing becoming proficient with software while noting nearly every “master” favors generating slick, baroque graphics- processing-heavy works preferred by users of either Ultra Fractal or Apophysis that results in a mass conformity certified by the replication of a deluge of self-same variants of fractal works seemingly made more to rack up popularity points in lengthy praise-dense comment threads and to place prominently in the next BMFAC contest rather than engaging in the making of fine art through embracing the spirit of inventive, experimental, individualistic acts of creative self-expression.

To illustrate my premise, I showed a number of images by Ms. Fire’s “masters” that displayed nearly interchangeable spiral formations, although, after seeing the continued ossification of the other previously unseen 49 other “masters,” I now realize I could have just as easily constructed several additional posts displaying previously unused images caught in the act of reduplicating forms other than spirals.  I concluded by noting that the highly buffed, overly fussy later works that supposedly rocked may be well crafted, but it was actually the more minimalistic earlier works that supposedly sucked that might be considered more artistic and often made more salutary use of design elements.

The review caused considerable emotional reflux round the bend at Fractalbook.  Some of the self-proclaimed “masters,”  accustomed to having every post of their work kissed and stroked and wrapped in a warm Snuggie stitched out of flattery, suddenly experienced the cold-water-to-the-face shock of an actual critical review.  In fact, the whole notion of an objective critique appears to be an alien concept to the Fractal Masters of deviantART (FMDA, Inc.).  When they placed their work in a public, online art community, how could they have ever imagined that the public might actually show up to view what they themselves openly displayed?  The only prospect imaginably worse would be if some members of the public might further have the gall to reflect on and then review their public, “masterly” fractal art in a fashion that does not involve gushing out yet another faving rave punctuated with cutesy, animated smilies.

If you haven’t read the review in question, surf back to it first and drink it in — and be sure to slowly sip rather than gulp the comments from the rankled DA “masters.”  I made a point to put up all comments emanating from Fractalbook — even those that were spiteful or juvenile or completely incoherent — because I felt the remarks provided insights into the Fractalbook mindset and environment.

While it would be time-consuming, not to mention time-wasting, to respond to each and every accusation hurled by DA’s “masters,” there are a few charges that get repeated enough to deserve a rebuttal in a series of upcoming OT posts I like to call: Fractals That Suck Redux.


Part One: The Theft of Copyright

I think the subsequent source of DA masterly ire that surprised me most was the repeated charge that I had somehow illegally and unethically “stolen” the images I used for illustration in my review.  It soon became clear to me that quite a few people at DA Fractals-R-Us Headquarters have considerable misconceptions about what can and what cannot be done, especially in the context of a critical review, with images posted online to an open, public site like deviantART.  Let’s go to the videotape…

Here’s a few remarks made on OT to my review:

dlr4553 says:

I wonder if the artists that you have “featured” in this post are aware that you have used their work. I find it hard to imagine that they would condone the use of their work as examples of what you feel is wrong with fractal art or to assist in your agenda to show art sites like deviantArt as a hotbed for mediocre and non-professional fractal art.

and grinning as ever! exclaims:

Ask if you want to use anything of mine in future..thief!

But the less restrained remarks come from the cold core of ground zero — the dark, quasi-alchemical lair of the fractal “masters” themselves — deviantART.  You can usually tell because of the presence of their many familiars that usually take the form of kitschy smilies:

Here’s dlr4553 again, at home:

What is bothering me is the nagging suspicion that he [“Mr. Animal”] did not obtain the permission of the artists whose copyrighted works he chose to “feature” in his post. I find it hard to believe that these artist are aware that their artwork is being used outside of dA to show examples of what this so called critic thinks is wrong with fractal art.

I don’t know if you have let these artists know about this honor he bestowed upon them, but I certainly intend to send them a note to inform them. I know that I would want to be aware of any unauthorized usage of my artwork, especially when it is being cast in a negative light.

LoonyL has this thought:

I’ve read that post on the Orbit Trap blog. :| I should probably leave a comment there (at least for pointing out the unauthorized use of my work) but I’ve decided that I really don’t care.

To which silwenka replies:

I was thinking about it either.. but I am pretty sure this person [“Mr. Animal” again, I’d guess] doesn’t care.

In the end, though, and without a doubt, it is Ms. Fire (writing as Iwona Fido) who frets and struts the most over inappropriate appropriation of images.  Here she is on OT — adding a postscript in a comment post that is considerably longer than my initial review:

Universal rule and courtesy, I hope you obtained the Authors permission to post the thumbnails of their artwork in your article (most Artists on devart, do have copyright protection on their images and that includes blogging, without authorizing the thumbnail of the image, will be posted outside the desired site).

But she really gets her mojo working on this subject after she tracks me down “hiding” in plain sight on my formerly empty DA home page:

Finally – what should I tell my friends, who’s images you posted and names you used in your article – “that I gave you the permission or knew about it” …I don’t think so….

Please DON’T do this again !!!

None of us care for your blog and none us, wishes to be featured by you in any way at any point

When I respond that DA is a public forum, and art that is posted in such places can be critiqued, and that copyright law has clauses allowing for images to be used for review purposes, she rises from her throne, pounds her scepter on the virtual podium, and threatens me with banishment:

I had my images blogged outside without my written permission
and I did ask for them to be deleted – ALL of my artworks are
copyrighted by ME – and you have no say in where and when you
gonna display them.

Read under the deviations you ‘stole’:
©2010 *LoonyL
©2009-2010 `JoelFaber
Some rights reserved. This work is licensed under a
Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.
©2008-2010 ~grinagog
©2009-2010 *milleniumsentry
©2010 =Jimpan1973

Those are not public licenses – they bound by law.

I would not be surprised, if you get banned for it, when the devart moderators find out :nod: Happened before – since the same excuse was used by people copying and reposting images on ‘wallpaper’ site – DA is not a public domain.

Notice, if you will, that she has confused the distinction between a public web site (like deviantART) and the concept of public domain.

So, in response, I posted the following reply to her.  It’s worth including in its entirety here as an open rebuttal to everyone immediately above who thinks I’m engaging in some kind of despicable thievery:

Notice that the license says “some rights reserved” — not all rights. I am not denying the images are copyrighted, nor am I using them in any commercial manner. I’m not stealing them and claiming they are mine, as perhaps the wallpaper site you mention may have done. In fact, in my post, I clearly identify the artists and provide a link to each of their galleries, which, I suspect, likely brings more traffic to DA.

I did not lift all of your article, nor did I put up all of the images used in the article. Even the few images I used were not posted at full size.

Orbit Trap writes reviews of fractal art. I reviewed your article and reproduced selected works of art that appeared in the article. Such action is legal and explicitly spelled out under the “fair use” provisions of copyright law, which allows copyrighted material to be reproduced for the purposes of critiques and reviews.

This is no different than quoting an excerpt from a book when writing a book review. Have you ever watched a movie review program where a clip from a film being reviewed is played? The film is copyrighted, but “fair use” maintains the clip can be used because such use is in the context of a review. What I have done is similar and certainly a common practice among people who write art criticism.

It seems clear why the law makes an exception in cases involving “fair use.” Without the protection of the fair use clause, all artists, writers, musicians, and filmmakers could keep anyone from ever reviewing their work — whether the critiques were good or bad. The law recognizes that such an arrangement is not in the public interest.

Of course, you could have looked all of this up yourself, Iwona, instead of immediately jumping to conclusions and accusing me of theft. If the DA mods want to talk with me calmly and rationally about “fair use” and how it pertains to external reviews of art posted on a public site like this one, I would be happy to speak with them.

By the way, for the record, Orbit Trap is the only independent blog currently dedicated to reviews of fractal art. I have, in the past, also favorably reviewed (and linked to) a number of images housed on both DA and Renderosity.


This concludes the first part of “Fractals That Suck Redux.”  But don’t change that blogging dial, gentle readers   I’ll be back quicker than you can say self-similarity with yet another fun-filled episode with limited commercial interruptions and once more starring that wacky family of dysfunctional fractal art “masters and wizards” from your favorite Fractalbook mini-series.

So program your DVR to record Part Two entitled: Kill the Messenger.  Now, to tide you over, here’s a scene from our next exciting episode — in which dizzy dlr4553 quips:

Okay, I read that Orbit “Crap” post and I am just seething :angered:, but not for the obvious reasons.

And to which zany Iwona retorts:

They didn’t notify anybody about anything nor they asked anybody about their image rights, that part upsets me as well :nod: They used ‘copy image location’ and decided DA is a public domain and they allowed to do this :nod:

That’s right, kids.  And it’s all only on (cue reverb-heavy circa Space Angel announcer) OOORRRbit Trappp…


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6 thoughts on “Fractals That Suck Redux — Part One

  1. I asked you to stop doing logical fallacies…. Stop oversimplifying other peoples’ opinions to boost your own ego

    And also, what makes you think that “fractal masters” are all “horror Vacui”? all of the fractalists you named in your blog enrties has plenty non-stuffed works in their galleries. But then again, why use real artistic terms when you are on a blog?

    Reading your articles (not that me or Iwona or anyone else wants revenge or anything like that….)we have concluded that you are not writing an review about the fractal community, you are boosting your own pitiful little ego of yours.

    Secondly, why do you even hate Iwona that much?

    Seriously, there is a difference of saying your opinion and being a complete douche. You are saying that “fractal masters are n00bs”. No, they are not n00bs, they are experimenting. And they are testing.

    But then again, if i should do a critique of your works, i would say “Generic, eyesoring colours, low quality and messy”
    I would also add “Looks like something that has been HEAVILY filtered in photoshop.

    And i see that you haven’t left any comments on my profile on dA, and i am grateful for that.

    Also, have a nice night!

    -Mikhail I. Borodin

  2. Hello. First of all I’m sorry for my bad english, I hope I will express myself properly. I read your previous blog entry and this one too, accurately and with all my attention. I’m really sorry to hear such rage against Deviantart in your words… and against many of my friends I met there. Iwona, especially, is a wonderful woman, always ready to help and support, she shared a lot of techniques with her tutorials and parameters and promoted a lot of artists with features, always with a lovely enthusiastic mood. It really hurt me a lot the lack of respect you showed towards her, and I really hope you will soon change your mind.
    I found dA a beautiful community, full of people that like to share and help, support and teach. Showing the technical growth of some fractalists is a wonderful way to motivate others to improve and don’t give up, and I really thank Iwona for posting those news articles. Technical growth is very useful to manage to express ourself with fractals better and better, and to reach beauty. Only idiots claim to be artists or designers with their first works. Very few people can play the piano with no experience. Quite nobody can make a nice painting if they can hardly draw. It’s a matter of objectivity and humility… if we all think that our first works are already masterpieces, we won’t learn a thing. This may sound banal but it’s the heart of the matter, for me. In fractal world, this risk is higher. To avoid being called and considered just button pushers, we need to properly know how to use the software. If you think running a random batch with apophysis, taking the best flame the software created, giving it a nice gradient and calling it “mosquito with a hat” or “untitled n.13426” or “aurora borealis” is already artistic, well, then trying to learn the softwares and experiment with them is totally unworthy. If later works are more detailed and intricate, and less minimalistic, it’s just because it’s hard to get such results without a nice knowledge of the software. They’re hard to get with random attempts. Details in fractals blow my mind, I love to notice self similarity and interesting patterns, especially when it’s something that has never been seen, and many of those “master” fractals shown in the articles were really unique. This doesn’t mean I only love detailed fractals… TomWilcox and JonLouq are among my favorite fractal artists, with their lovely minimalistic and highly expressive style.
    I don’t define myself an artist, anyway. I’ve been making fractals for just a year and a few months, and I’m really far from being an expert, I’m still a beginner. I just enjoy so much creating them. Many people on deviantArt are and think just like me, it’s just a passion. Is there something wrong with this? I hope no. Many people showed me appreciation for what I do, many people taught me how to improve my skills, many people told me their personal view of my work and gave me constructive feedback. Is there anything wrong with this? There’s nothing wrong with DeviantArt. There’s nothing wrong in Iwona’s articles. There’s nothing wrong in a nice spiral. Just remember spirals are one of the main and most common fractal subjects, as well human figure is for painting and sculpture. There’s nothing wrong with that. You can have your own preferences, there’s nothing wrong with them. I respect your opinion, we don’t think all the same and you’re allowed to disagree as much as I am. I would just point out that critiques are worthy, well advised and welcome if you put yourself into question too, and give suggestions on how to improve and correct. I had a look at your fractals and I saw many interesting ones. You could join us, share your work with the community. Give others feedback, and get feedback from others. If you think you have an original and outstanding vision, tell us how to improve, show us your art, be inspiring. Everyone would be grateful to you for that.
    Have a nice day.

  3. Bravo!!!! (and I actually mean it)

    Your las two posts are a great reflection of what happens in closed communities online (DA is only one example of those).

    Normally trends matter more than creativity, and you get sucked in a spiral of gratuitous positive reviews that forgot the critics spirit that was the main force behind the creation of those communities.

    The most amazing thing is how blind are the people on those communities to critique, and you always will get a lot of posts like the two responses from Mr. Borodin that actually misses the point of a rational discussion.

    And by the way, that happens not only in fractal art, you can see it happening in any forum like site that can be considered a scene (Flickr, Vimeo, actionscript and flash forums, etc, etc, etc, etc, etc).

  4. First, I would like to say that I have a college degree in Graphic Arts. And I have been creating fractal images for decades, not just a few months or years (like some of these wanna-be amateurs). I probably have used more fractal generators and rendering applications than anybody else (though there may be a handful of others that come close to the same level of experience).

    Secondly, even with my knowledge and experience, I have never claimed to be a “master”, “wizard”, “artist”, or any such title, as a lot of these closed communities tend to do with their own members. Nor am I so vain as to want such notoriety or titles. Such people must be very lonely for attention and praise.

    Your review was exactly what this blog is about, the critique of fractal related images, galleries, and the like. I saw no malice in what you stated, only an observation that several others have also noticed. And if those that cannot handle a bit of criticism think your comments are a personal attack, then they should not be involved in public showings of their so called “artwork”.

    As to copyright laws, it appears the most ignorant people are the ones that scream the loudest about infringement. (Besides, is there not an old saying that “bad publicity is better than no publicity”??)

  5. Regarding the copyright issues, “fair use” is not available in every country in the world. So you could possibly by infringing some other country copyright laws.

    But this is not the point of this comment.
    One image copyright is:

    “Some rights reserved. This work is licensed under a
    Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.”

    Which means you don’t even have to use the “fair use”, because the authors grant the possibility to anyone to copy and release the work, as long as the work is not modified, and not used commercially. All these conditions are respected here.

    This is most frightening: Creative Commons users don’t even know the basic meanings of the license they use…
    Creative Commons are a great thing, but I didn’t believe it was used by people who don’t understand them at all.

    One last thing, the words “steal” and “thief” are completely wrong: a steal happens when the prior owner has lost the stolen thing. Here it is a copy of an intellectual work, it can’t be stolen.. This is only a copyright infringement.

  6. Opinions about DA:
    DA has devolved into a jr. high school clique haven for insecure bullies.
    Opinions about FF:
    FieryFire is the ugliest person to help taint that site.
    What kind of arrogant idiot would post those cruel DA fractal articles?
    She imagines herself to be some kind of expert.
    Opinions about UF and Apo:
    UF and Apo are NOT gods to worship.
    Opinions about fractal art:
    Whether an artist post-processes or not, the final art is their decision.
    They most likely chose the colors, amount of light and dark, etc.
    I thought the wars over fractals on the net would have ended by now, but
    they rage on. Why is it when a person starts using a fractal program,
    they think they are the only expert on fractal art?
    Thanks for your blog here,
    Just Art

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