Placing the Blame


Soma (2001)

It’s not whether you win or lose, it’s how you place the blame.
Oscar Wilde

Why is it that people who question the improprieties of the BMFAC contest are repeatedly told they must “get over it.”

Yet, if Dzeni and other supporters are still able to comment, then why can’t I do the same?

Moreover, if any contributor posts here on Orbit Trap, our masthead makes it clear that his or her opinions can be “confronted and possibly disputed.” Dzeni confronted me. I can return the favor. Blogs, by definition, don’t have “get over it” clauses.

So, instead, let’s “get to it” by examining a few of her points:

I’d argue that “that” fractal contest can be seen as a win/win scenario.

It’s certainly that for the judges. They’ve set up the system, so they can never lose — plus they have the honor of both exhibiting and judging without being judged themselves. And their résumés get double the padding — one line for service as a judge, and another line for being in an exhibition. That’s what I call “win/win.”

A bunch of people put together an exhibition every year and invite submissions. They are clear on the criterion and the process.

Submissions are invited only after the judges have first gobbled up nearly half of the gallery space for themselves. Yes, they are clear — even brazen — about disclosing what they are doing. I’ve never argued otherwise. The question is whether their actions and guidelines are ethical and fair.

They don’t charge an entry fee.

I don’t like entry fees either. But part of what they are generally used for is to pay the judges for their services. Such compensation avoids the obvious conflicts of interest found in BMFAC. Of course, the organizers could probably make arrangements to have BMFAC’s judges paid rather than displayed, but they apparently find the current arrangement more cozy.

Even if I don’t win or get a special mention, I’m no worse off than I was before.

True, but the judges are certainly better off than you and the other participants. Without contestants, the judges have no show for themselves. Why do you think they handed out 55 ALTs and HMs (compare this to only 5 HMs at this year’s MOCA contest)? You (and 50+ others) almost made it. Try your luck again next year. The judges, of course, won’t need luck. All they need is people like you to enter.

Life’s not fair (get over it).

That cliché is sure true. But is a shrug the best response to life’s unjustness? One should be allowed to speak out against aspects of life that are not fair. I’d rather examine unfair things and the people who do them than just get over everything. And why do I think that getting over it (which you tell me to do four times in your post) really means drop it or shut up?

Life is too short to moan about “that” contest.

Life is also too short not to point out iniquities — like the contest’s improprities. I care about the fractal community as much as anyone. I have to “live” here, too. I’d prefer the neighbors in my fractal neck of the woods act professionally.

Go and create some great art.

I can blog about the contest and make art at the same time. I see you did.

Art is subjective. What the contest panel chose may not be what you would choose.

Very true. I think the winners are all superb artists and deserving of recognition. I have no issues with the contest’s winners. My writings have been strictly focused on the behaviors of the contest’s director, organizers, and judges — and on the fairness of the rules.

…it gives us all a great opportunity to evaluate our work, to see what others are doing and hopefully to become better artists.

There’s plenty to see everyday if one belongs to an art community like Renderosity or DeviantArt. Moreover, unlike the contest, these places provide far more evaluative interaction (like tutorials and critical feedback) with other artists.

The panel get to exhibit their work.

Do they ever — in a contest they have judged. That’s the whole problem. If, instead, their work was being displayed in an invitational art show, no one would be questioning the appropiateness of their actions.

They are probably not going to change their mind because two people disagree.

Don’t let the comments on these posts mislead you. Tim and I are not the only people who feel this contest needs closer scrutiny. But, I agree with you. Judging how the BMFAC judges have behaved, they probably cannot be reasoned with or shamed into having any epiphanies.

At the end of a day, you can choose to find a way where everyone wins or you can gripe and moan so that everyone loses.

This is a false dichotomy. I prefer a third choice — one that isn’t centered around winning and losing. At the end of the day, you have to live with yourself — so you do what you think is right.


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2 thoughts on “Placing the Blame

  1. “orbit trap” -> “benoit mandelbrot competition trap”

    seriously, dzeni said it plainly and often enough: get over it!

    where the hell are the fractal works? is dzeni going to be the only one carrying the torch?

  2. Really, dzeni was more than kind. This blog has become a self-serving, involutional, pedantic, boring rant. Like William Shatner said so may years ago on SNL, “get a life!”

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