Fractals That Suck Redux — Part Two

You're a complete douche.  Have a nice night.

“I know you are but what am I?”

Photograph seen on SodaHead.

This is part of a continuing series that began with a review of an article on deviantART entitled “People who’s [sic] Fractals SUCKED!!!”  The series focuses on responding to criticisms raised by some of the DA fractal art “masters” to the review, and focuses on some specific rebuttals and the manner in which they were made.  For background, please refer to my original review, “Fractals That Suck,” as well on the first follow-up post in the series, “Fractals That Suck Redux — Part One” that addressed the issue of the “fair use” clause in copyright law and its understanding that copyrighted images can be used in the context of a review or critique.


Part Two: Kill the Messenger

Historically, delivering bad news has proved a risky business.  Omnipotent Wikipedia explains why:

In ancient times, messages were delivered in person by a human envoy. Sometimes, as in war, for example, the messenger was sent from the enemy camp. An easily-provoked combatant receiving such an overture could more easily vent anger (or otherwise retaliate) on the deliverer of the unpopular message than on its author, thus literally killing the messenger. In modern usage, the expression still refers to any kind of punishment meted out to the person bringing bad news, but has taken on an ironic dimension as well.

It brought me no joy to be the bearer of bad news about the fractal state of affairs at deviantART.  Still, in almost every case, DA members responded to my critique not by addressing the contentions I’d made, but by attacking me personally, and doing so from a number of fronts.

Front One: My art sucks, so where do I get off passing judgment on anybody else’s art.

Mikahil Borodin, for example, says

Before posting stuff like this, make sure your own art isn’t just a bunch of brushes, third-grade fractals and photoshop filters.

suggesting that because my own work more fittingly belongs in elementary school that I somehow forfeit my right to both have an opinion and to freely express it.

Borodin returns later in the same post to expand his critical assessment of my art

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.

that, to his credit, does elaborate a bit on the generalities suggested in his first critique. I’ll circle round to address his implied criticism of Photoshop filters later in this series.

Meanwhile, the act of reviewing the reviewer thrives over at DA and arguably marks a milestone: the appearance of actual negative criticism of fractals on FractalbookFiery-Fire, aka Iwona Fido, author of the sucking/rocking DA article(s), says

They [Tim and I?] not really, that perceptive as artists neither, if you have a look at their own gallery [meaning mine, I think, since Tim and I don’t share one] of ‘so called’ fractals – at first glance I felt pity …

but doesn’t supply concrete examples of pitifulness like Borodin does.  And there are other scattered potshots littered among the  DA comment threads.  So, given the barbs, how do I feel about these critiques of my work?  Well…

Well…I’ll have to suck it up, shrug my shoulders, and carry on.  If I can dish it out, I’d better be ready to take it.  Freedom of speech cuts both ways.

Now, do I enjoy having my work trashed?  Of course not.  Who among us truly prefers criticism to praise?  But I’m fairly comfortable in my own skin.  As I writer, I got used to receiving criticism early in life.  Rejection slips are unavoidable and toughened me up.  I just move on to the next image or poem or blog post or whatever.  I trust my instincts and hope my vision is true.  As for criticism, I’ll take it, if I feel it is valid.  If not, I try to let it drop away and not get in the way of creating new work.  As for praise, I’m grateful to receive it, pleased that people like what I did, but I’m sometimes wary of its motive and always aware of its appeal.  Compliments, nice as they can be, should not be allowed to get in the way of creative work either.  One should not need praise to feel a sense of accomplishment or as any kind of a motivator to begin work on a new/next piece.  And, frankly, I think a constant stream of compliments can be counterproductive — especially if praise become addictive, or should the number of compliments make it impossible to pick out friends from flatterers.

Besides, criticism has some benefits.  It can tone up your work.  When creative writing comes back rejected, that’s a good time to look it over, again, with new eyes.  Put it through a few more iterations to improve the concept or composition or other elements. In other words, revise.  Then send out again to the next editor.

The publishing process has the advantage of keeping earlier iterations of not-quite-polished creative writing in the hands of editors and not yet seen by the public.  This allows art to better season.  The disadvantage of Fractalbook is that everything falls instantly into the laps of clique members — who may feel in competition with you or have other ulterior motives.  Worse, there’s never any motivation to rethink or revise any given posted image.  Look at the length of that comment thread.  Listen to all those oohs and aahs and pats on the back.  Every piece arrives fully realized — perfect — just like all the others.  After all, not just anyone can be called a “master?”

Front Two: Name-Calling.

I once wrote an OT post about Fractalbook.  In it, I traced the origins of online art communities and observed:

Fractalbookers think Fractalbook has noble, even highbrow origins. Something like a quilting bee or a debating society. But even more cultured. Like maybe their own personal Louvre where each Fractalbooker can be both artist and patron. Master craftsman and astute critic. Philosopher-king and mountain mystic. Pablo Picasso and Robert Hughes.

But an Art Pantheon is not the blueprint for Fractalbook. It has roots in a much more familiar model.

High School.

But I may have set the social development bar too high. The level of discourse coming out from the DA “masters” is often more in the range of a third-grader (ironically, according to Borodin, the prime audience for appreciating my work).  Consequently, the rhetorical complexity of  most responses rarely rises above a third-grader’s well-known favorite counter-taunt: I know you are but what am I?

After all, if you can’t counter or refute someone’s contentions, just insult them or call them names.  Let’s go to the video tape:.

grinning as ever!, who later calls me a “thief,” says

Just a knit picking bore! I had loads of fun making fractals! So whats it to you..Mr lonely!

although, personally, I do not consider the pervasiveness of conformity at DA, seen in the replication of design and ornamentation of style in at least 70 DA “masters,” to be “knit-picking.”  I’d consider such a situation more like a viral outbreak of abidance.  And I’m sure you had fun making fractals.  I’m sure you enjoyed the praise each received, too.  I just suggested that one of those fractals might not necessarily rise to the level of being art.

And what’s one to make of the following paradox?  Borodin says I am “a complete douche” and then turns around and tells me to “have a nice night.”  I’m getting mixed messages here, so I figure it’s a toss up.  But there’s no mistaking how Georg Kiehne (Xyrus02) feels:

I’ve heard of your writings in the past but no article has disgusted me more than this. Why do you even read postings on deviantART if you hate it that much? Can it be that there is an attention-addict child on the other line craving for stuff it could rape by twisting others words like the medium-class spirals I see all over this place?

Maybe it’s good I can’t quite ferret out the meaning here.  Am I the “attention-addict child?” Or am I raping children?  Or just raping images?  Or maybe raping ideas?  At any rate, I hope this is all just a hyperbolic misfire.  If not, I find it offensive.

And the above is just what a few of the “masters” will say to your face in the home of your own blog.  Back in the lair of the “masters,” within the paper-thin cyber-walls of DA, here’s how IDeviant feels:

As for those wankstains trapped in their own pathetic little orbits, I wouldn’t give them the steam off my fucking piss, let alone the dignity of a reply to their lily-livered vitriol ;)

I want to point out, just for the record, that no one here at Orbit Trap was seeking that particular item in the first place. Even so, the remark does seem more than a little…uncongenial.  You’d think Ms. Fire, who initiated the post, would want to take steps to turn down the heat a bit.  But you’d be wrong.  She replies that

Few people from DA ‘reads’ their blog and they commonly known as obsessive ‘trolls’ or attention whores, who are well known for being nasty and mean.

That should definitely help to put out the torches and put down the pitchforks.  And, now that I’m cognizant of being an attention whore, let me call attention to how she concludes her remarks

Maybe it’s true, guys with ‘flashy-sporty cars’ do make-up for other things they don’t have :lmao: in the traps case is ‘talent’ :rofl:

because it brings me to the next category which is

Front Three: Call in the Shrink

If you can’t refute someone’s argument, but can’t bring yourself to stoop to name-calling, then just play armchair psychiatrist.  Since I disagree with you “masters,” I obviously must be insane, neurotic/psychotic, or somehow psychologically traumatized.  In Ms. Fire’s analogy above, it’s clear that the OT bloggers are mentally scarred by having noxious attributes and a truckload of personality defects.  We “drive” a hotshot blog because (down deep) we know we are hacks as artists.  In other words, we overcompensate for ever-so-obvious moral or physical shortcomings. Well, I think I can see what DA’s Junior Freudians are implying

Yeah :nod:.  Ha :rofl:.  And I bet “Mr. Animal” has a tiny dick, too :lmao: .  Ha Ha ;) :nod:.

which, I guess, is pretty funny — if you’re a third-grader.

Unless, of course, you prefer a much more infant-based, pre-verbal humor like that of grinning as ever! who, as a clinically-based comedian but unskilled typist, conjectures:

gdzsjkvirnsvjxnh kdfojvzx/locji z kiasdfuvhylsa,cjkhzkudrfhzdfvj ghskobx.n

But, make no mistake, there’s no shortage of possible psychiatric profiles.  Another favorite, and one long preferred by OT’s detractors, is the “sour grapes” diagnosis — in which OT’s bloggers are either bitter for not winning BMFAC, or in a rage for not placing in the Fractal Universe Calendar, or are too moody and socially stunted to fit into DA’s social scene and so lash out at their betters, or some other scenario I’d never consider ever wanting in the first place. Here’s a textbook example from rocamiadesign who says

OGM! I just read the blog, critiqueing your articles and then followed your link to the blogger’s “art”. Ewwwwwww! I think that he’s just spewing vitriol because he’s jealous of artists whose work actually sells.

meaning, for those of you keeping score at home, that I’m a loser — both as an artist and as an entrepreneur. Since I now assume rocamiadesign’s work, in contrast to mine, sells, why don’t we take a look at it:

Kitties rack up the buck.

Precious by rocamiadesigns

No!!! She outflanked me with the cute kitty maneuver. And public taste being what it is, and given the prevailing aesthetics of mass culture, I cannot recover.  I yield the field to a superior enterpriser.

Sometimes, two of the “masters,” highly trained headshrinkers, surely with advanced degrees in neuroscience, consult and come to a consensual assessment, as Dr. Borodin reports what he and his distinguished colleague have concluded:

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.

You know, Doc, calling me “a complete douche” is not exactly helping my self-esteem issues.  So, I think I’ll get a second opinion.

Other times, for the more gifted wannabe analysts, the psychological insights can rival those of Dr. Phil.  Like Dr.IDeviant, who, putting aside his urinary tract temperature for the moment, offers this extended prognosis without even the benefit of sitting in numerous talking cure sessions with me:

My ‘shrooms! And I just couldn’t resist a little tirade against the OT crew. I suspect a background in weak political activism or some such, the psychology is so obvious and repetitive, like precocious adolescents revelling in their new-found pseudo-intellectualism whilst simultaneously shit-stirring at the fringe of the community they just cannot join due to their own misanthropy. A serious critic would never adopt that tone without first having been personally humiliated at the hands of the target :disbelief:

So I’m a product of my environment, huh.  Too much social concern and education?  That’s my problem?  So I act out by conducting guerilla raids on DA because I’m too much of a misanthropic sourpuss to actually fit in with the other DA kewl kidz as they call each other an artistic “master” and stroke one another’s egos in the hopes of having theirs stroked in return?

I think all those other egos, each calling themselves “a master,” are probably crying out for help more loudly than mine.  And listen, Dr ID.  After you write me up a scrip for Zoloft to mellow out my tone problem, do you think you could help out that guy above who thinks I’m a rapist before he does decide he actually wants some of that revenge Dr. Iwona and Dr. Borodin say does not interest them?  Thanks.  Much appreciated. Now…about the bill…


So, gentle readers, keep obsessively clicking your mouse like a TV remote and join us for our next exciting OT episode of Fractals That Suck Redux entitled: “Text vs Subtext” — plus, for your further enjoyment, a special bonus short called “Who Really Uses Shoddy Tools?”  Until then…


P.S. To be fair, I should add that not every critical response to my post was pitched to a third-grade level.  Comments made by Esin Turkakin and chiaraLinde, for example, were civil, thoughtful, and welcomed — even if I did not always completely agree with all of their points.

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6 thoughts on “Fractals That Suck Redux — Part Two

  1. You know, the stuff i said is pretty much the same you said about the articles. By only focusing on the negative things, you don’t critique, you troll. But since you quoted me, it seems like you are beginning to understand!
    Please note how I didn’t write anything positive when i wanted to review your art. Not that i didn’t say how or where to improve. Honestly, it took quite some time to condense an entire blog post into a short qoute like that, but i think i pulled that off nicely.

    Honestly, i don’t mind negative critique, but when you try to write one, at least tell where to improve instead of wasting your time to disguise a rant as one. I have tried several times that someone said “this fucking sucks” while i was making a fractal. I didn’t take is as some deadly offense, no? , wonder why?
    Because they said “if you do this, try this and remove a little of that, this will turn out wonderful” and guess what? It actually did. And by the way, i do like some of your pieces. I don’t just say that to sound like a damn saint, but because some of them actually are something cool!
    Just to clarify something: I called you a douche, yes, but just when it came to that article. As i said before, criticism isn’t just trashing others opinions, but also helping them improve. i haven’t seen the later in your previous articles, but you are getting there.

    Going a little off topic again:

    Sadly, i agree in most things you say about dA. Yes, i think devaintART is becomming “mainstreamART” more and more as we type. If there was a way to ban everyone who makes sonic recolours, tracing anime screenshots, using dA as MySpace and Facebook (which i SO GRUESOMELY despite) I would mean that we would have a much healthier dA. And also the fact that dA seems to be run by kids, and the average age per deviant is close to 17 seems to ruin the site even more. If there were more adults on dA, then it maybe wouldn’t be such a silly playground without any drAma….

    And also about the photoshop filters i told you about before…. It’s actually quite sad that some fractalists can’t tell the difference between fractals and photoshop. Twice a photoshop got the fractal DD status(*cough* Dave *cough*) .
    You know a filter names “Fractalius” or something along that lane? It’s freaking annoying. every photoshop crackhead who use it, ALWAYS uploads the filtered cat/shoe/flower/dong/whatever into the fractal art gallery making it look like a mess.

    Oh, fractal gallery? There isn’t a fractal gallery anymore…. it’s called “Scraps you actually can see in your main gallery”. The fractal art gallery is a dumping ground for n00bs, dykes and sonic fanbase. Sad, but true.

    Anyhows, i look forward to your next blog post. I wanna hear your opinion about phtoshop filters. (because, sadly, we seem to agree about a lot on dA (not everything, tho))


    p.s. Use my first name if you want to quote me again. I hate my last name..

  2. You know, these little fractal communities (such as DA) remind me of the days on UseNet Newsgroups, when people like Barbara “BubblyBabs” Liebert would go around handing out praise and comments to almost every single posting (including the SPAM). She even said:

    “I just worried that by replying to only one persons pictures but not another persons pictures I’d hurt their feelings…”

    She actually felt (and once stated) that if she did not hand out wonderful comments to others, then she would not get any in return for her own postings.


  3. What abot KrzysztofMarczak,MakinMagic, Xyrus02,gateman45?
    Finally a few of them you can find on as well.
    You can find programmers, artists, people sharing code and helping each other for free.
    It’s sad wasting like that the job Xyrus is doing with Tacitus.
    Do you really think that for example flickr is better? maybe you could criticise youtube’s or vimeo’s videos too..myspace, facebook..
    It’s so sad..
    I admire more and more people like David posting on Deviant art, always ready to share.
    It’s so superficial attacking DA.
    Daniel White and Bugman are not snob, they are on DA as well!
    Best habit is not being snob..from this point we are ready to change art.
    But if we are snob there’s no honesty.


  4. why don’t we criticise Nahee Enterprises’s website?
    it’s so obsolete, bbs-usenet style..
    On this blog I don’t like the fonts for example, it’s so serious..
    :-) it’s so easy…
    Maybe we do have the same problem: we don’t have sense of humor but we think we are so cool or funny.
    We think we are competent, our taste is the best, we know better things, we know about arts and bla bla bla.
    what you suggest?
    should be block these kids?
    tell us what to do, please.

  5. You did it again ;-) Twisting words. I did not call you a rapist in the original meaning (for gods sake), I did call you a rapist of the written word because you tend to torture it tell you have it like you want. You know what I think else? You need professional help.

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