FUC: The Unholy Trinity — or, Are Our Ears Burning Again?

You know, when you post on an online forum, I can hear you...

If you’re a critic on the Internet, everyone can hear you scream.
–Cameron Woodhead, The Sydney Morning Herald

Image seen on blog.hr.

It should go without saying that when folks speak out about OT in online public forums, I can hear them.  Sometimes, I like to return the favor of pleasant conversation   I guess this tendency to further discussion is my variation of what the yakkers on the Ultra Fractal Mailing List call "tweaking."

OT’s last several posts apparently rattled a few cages and disturbed the dust under some bridge beams.

Let’s go right to the footage.


Keith Mackay, former Fractal Universe Calendar (FUC) editor, cares little for the "2011 Fractal Universe Calendar" published by Moseley Road.   His assessment:

In my humble opinion, that calendar has the ugliest fractal art in it that anyone could have ever assembled into a calendar. A four year old could have created those images.

But, as Tim recently showed, thanks to the efforts of Mackay and the other FUCsters, fractal art is now just bulk manufacturing and as easily procurable as a jaunt to the florist.

Or, perhaps, a spin through the doughnut shop drive thru?  Just grab a dozen to go.  Crash aesthetically when the spirally sugar rush wears off.  Hope each sweet fractal treat doesn’t become stale before a given month expires.

In my humble opinion, Mackay’s remarks are somewhat hypocritical, since, as a previous FUC editor, he was an enabler who fostered the very commoditization and disposability of fractal art promoted by a longstanding string of soon-to-be-chucked-out FUC product. The Moseley Road 2011 variant is just the latest iteration of the Frankenstein that MacKay and the other FUC editors and artists brought into being.  Now, Mackay finds his offspring ugly as it slouches towards Amazon (along with other FUC wannabes) and returns prodigally home like a nomadic, abandoned family of artistic reapers.

Mackay, however, only dislikes selective FUC clones.  He reports that Cornelia Yoder, the New Master of the Fractal Universe, wrote him with the happy news that

[T]he original Fractal Universe Calendar, the one published by Avalanche Publishing that I edited for a couple of years, is still alive.

to which Mackay’s response is


See?  It’s all good.  And how does Mackay explain FUC’s rise from the remainder bin with Yoder as the lone flower arranger? Because

It makes sense that they would only have one artist. To survive, businesses are all about cutting costs and it probably costs more to deal with one contract than it does to deal with several.

Yes, that makes sense — unless you are sentient.  If the markets are cutthroat and publishers are tightening their belts, why are there now three FUC clones instead of only one?  And if it costs more to write the one contract for Yoder, then why would publishers abandon the previous multi-artist format if it was cheaper?

Sadly, what’s really been cheapened are both fractal art and fractal artists.  Just toss twelve long-stemmed fractals in the blender and spin.  And, in the end, nobody remembers the name of the flower arranger.


For those keeping score at home, there is now an unholy trinity of FUC-influenced calendars:

1) The Infinite Creations Calendar from Orange Circle Studio. This one was solicited/edited by former FUC editor Panny Brawley. Presumably, other ex-FUCers are included/involved.  The blurb says that

renowned fractal artists push their art to extremes and guide you on a journey through their infinite creations.

In fact, the artists are so renowned that no names are mentioned anywhere in the promotion — probably because the publishers have learned that fractal art is a disposable commodity — like plastic silverware and Styrofoam cups.

2) The "2011 Fractal Universe Calendar" from Moseley Road Publishing. Although the fractals here are described as "visually arresting," most appear to be default random batch renders, so no artistic skill was required for their creation (although, given the choice, I’d rather look at these than at saccharine spirals).  Again, no artists are named in the promotion — probably because the publishers now believe that fractal art is a throwaway trade good — like the plastic Wal-Mart sack you use to scoop out your cat’s litter box.

3) The Cornelia Yoder solo project, presumably also to be called the "2011 Fractal Universe Calendar," from Perfect Timing (who bought FUC’s original publisher, Avalanche Publishing).  Although this calendar, at present, has yet to be printed, this did not stop Yoder from making the modest announcement on the UF List that

All of the images in the calendar are mine this year.

which conveys a tone not unlike

Just smash it all into the sack. 

And here we see calendar publishers lining up to collect their lucrative bag-o-fractals.

Image seen on ghettoManga.

Yoder also took issue with my last post about her dumbstricken ascension to the FUC mountaintop by noting

I never pay any attention to that particular source of misinformation [Orbit Trap], but I see they are confused as usual. The "2011 Fractal Universe" calendar they are showing in that blog has absolutely nothing to do with the one I’m involved with…

but, of course, there was no confusion.  What I said was

It seems doubtful that Yoder will actually get to use the Fractal Universe moniker for her solo project because it appears Avalanche has sold the franchise — or, at any rate, turned a blind eye to its appropriation, as evidenced by this "Fractal Universe Calendar" printed by Moseley Road Publishers.

so I understood there were actually three separate calendars, even if two appear to have identical titles — a situation which Keith Mackay described as "messed up" — proving that he and I can finally agree on something. 

I await with typing fingers the release of Yoder’s calendar and hope it, too, will be "visually arresting" as it nestles prettily arranged in its own calendrical vase.  After all, Yoder says:

I hope that I have provided images in the same style as many of our community have in the past.

I think it’s safe to say that I will be — what’s the word — "flabbergasted" if such is not the case.


Yoder’s poke at OT brought a few other get-off-my-lawn grumblers on the UF List out from under their shaded porches.  Here’s Dave Makin:

As to a certain blog [Guess Who?], the authors are so obviously biased against any commercial fractal software that I now ignore their opinions completely.

Should I repay the favor and ignore Makin’s opinion — especially since I use commercial software in my own work all the time?  Could Makin be projecting instead about how he imagines I feel about a certain commercial software for which he currently serves as chief apologist?

Makin further states that

I have to disagree with much of their [That Would Be Us Again] statements regarding the Benoit Mandelbrot Fractal Art contests primarily because I simply consider those on how close to my own choices of winners the panel’s decision was and they always did quite well IMHO…

No doubt the selection panel’s choices coincided with Makin’s own.  I can think of one person who has consistently done quite well in BMFAC.  Three-time contest winner Dave Makin. 

BMFAC judge Mark Townsend also dropped by to convey these words of wisdom:

[M]any artists and art appreciators (and therefore a major part of the "mainstream" art world) are not normal people. I’d say they are more progressive, and more open to new experiences than "normal" people. However they can be snobs, which is why fractal art works probably need to be isolated from the kitschiness of the Fractal Art scene before they can be recognized.

To which Paul N. Lee adroitely replied:

Something else that Orbit Trap has been saying for quite a long time now.

And, finally, Ken Childress, still awaiting his Nobel Prize in Rhetoric, and who has not updated his anti-OT blog since mid-January because "OT has been reasonably non-controversial" (we must be slipping), blew off the cobwebs and mustered the strength to fire this shot:

[W]hen they [You Guessed It That’s Us Again] talk about UF, calendars, the BMFAC, they are anything but objective. They have very negative attitudes and biases against these events and the people involved in them. So much so, that they often resort to making misleading comments and innuendos, and sometimes outright lies about the events and people.

Am I making "misleading comments" or biased against BMFAC’s administrators because I ask that they break their silence and provide some physical proof that their showcase exhibition in India actually took place? 

When engaging in discourse (and I use the term loosely) with Childress — for whom his every thought is instantly reified as consummate truth — one quickly discovers that things like "negative attitudes," "biases," and "outright lies" are nothing more than opinions with which Childress disagrees.  One thing actuates him: to squelch everything that rubs him the wrong way.

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One thought on “FUC: The Unholy Trinity — or, Are Our Ears Burning Again?

  1. Just so there’s no confusion, the quote of mine above came from a thread that (at the time at least) had nothing to do with this blog.

    And guys, why keep bitching about calendars? They’re calendars. It’s kind of like constantly moaning about the woeful state of Fine Art because of the existence of Dogs Playing Poker. Even if you were to produce a calender with the most beautiful, thought provoking fractal art in existence, it would still end up being hung on the door of the bathroom, not in an art gallery. And the fact that you keep going on and on about them just shows that you’re as short-sighted and insular as the “bookers” that you denegrate.

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