I’ve been thinking about fractals and art and that’s what I came up with.
Like the world’s shortest email message, I have put everything into the subject line and now there’s no need to add any message.
Fractal art is commonly labelled “Fractal Art,” which at first glance makes sense, but in a way, I think it’s backwards.
Can fractals be art? Sure, because art can be made with anything, can’t it? Art is not a quality of the medium, it’s a quality of the object composed in that medium. Art is independent of the medium, the substance it’s made with.
Art is found in the substance’s form, like clay, for instance. Can clay be art? Yes, but only if it is formed into art, made into something artistic. We buy clay by the pound. We don’t buy sculpture by the pound.
Can watercolor painting be art? Naturally it can, no one argues or speculates about that. You can make art with watercolors or art with oil paints or art with photography.
Are all watercolor paintings, or all photographs, art? No, definitely not. We’ve all seen some, sitting in the garbage. Maybe we made them.
Which brings me to the age old question, what is art?
How about, what is music? It has been said that music is the better noise; music is what sounds good.
So, art is the better looking stuff; what looks good to the eye. Art is what is valued or admired. And there are probably degrees of “art” just as there can be degrees of value or admiration.
It’s subjective too, I’d say. There may be characteristics that are commonly found in works that are considered to be “art.” But, that’s just the subjectivity of a large group. We don’t always agree with what others admire and vice versa.
So why do some people have such a problem seeing fractals as art? I think it’s because their definition of art is tied to the medium and when presented with a new medium their definition can’t accommodate it.
That’s what happened with photography until it became obvious to many people, after seeing really great, artistic photographs, that art could made with a camera. Photography was just a new medium.
The strange thing is: I think it’s easier to recognize art than it is to recognize what isn’t art. The good stuff is always more distinct than the mediocre. Which is why I think there’s such a larger volume of mediocre material in any artform: We’re not absolutely sure it’s mediocre.
So the essential ingredient in fractal art isn’t fractals, it’s art. To find fractal art, don’t go looking for fractals, go looking for art. Art with fractals.
In my experience, it is primarily the digital or fractal artists talking amongst themselves who fear our medium will not be accepted as art. It is true that I experienced some prejedice from a couple of gallery owners early on, but my work has been seen by thousands at art festivals throughout the country and I can’t remember anyone questioning that it is art. There are many, of course, who aren’t interested in my work because it’s not their taste, and I’m certainly not privy to the comments folks make after they leave my booth, but the overwhelming response I’ve observed leads me to believe that this question resides largely within our own artist community.