Art Without an Audience

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When Orbit Trap was started, back in August of 2006, it had always been foremost in my mind that it would be a positive contribution to the fractal art world.

What does that mean?

To me it means that it would encourage the creation of exciting new artwork. “Exciting”? Exciting doesn’t need to be defined; we know what excitement is when it happens.

Some of the criticism that Orbit Trap has received, and that I have personally received, has lead me to think that many people in the fractal world misunderstand the function of criticism that Orbit Trap is performing.

I believe it all comes down to the role that criticism, and critics in particular, play in the world of art. Serious, meaningful, and sustained criticism is something that has been oddly lacking in the fractal art world. Perhaps because fractal art is still a relatively new art form? Or perhaps because criticism in the fractal world has often been met with harassment and punishing consequences?

Criticism is simply commentary. The word “criticism” has acquired a negative connotation in everyday speech, but I’m using the word in it’s traditional, neutral way, which simply implies any kind of feedback or discussion regardless of whether it’s pleasant or unpleasant. Criticism is merely talking “about” something.

Critics are people who comment on art. They may easily appear “opinionated” because commentary is, by it’s very nature, opinions. While critics have played an important, and at times, very influential role in the development of new artistic styles and types of art, I would say they are not very common, and for that reason, are a somewhat rare and unusual type of person. Most people are uncomfortable in giving criticism — ironically, even more uncomfortable than they are in actually receiving it.

Critics like to comment about art. Why? Well, for the same reason artists like to make art: quite simply, artistic passion. Commenting on art produces new ideas and perspectives and in consequence – new possibilities. Critics are just as interested in art as artists are. The roles are different, that’s all.

Critics help artists and viewers to see art differently – and in some cases to see art where people don’t see it at all. Artists like Jackson Pollock, who have had an enormous influence on the art world, would probably have had much less success if they were not “interpreted” and “explained” and introduced to the larger art audience by the thoughtful writing of art critics who saw something valuable in what they were doing.

So, in the world of art, criticism persists because art persists. Critics do not “get over it” just as artists do not “get over” making art.

Art without criticism is like seeing without thinking. It’s like art without an audience.

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2 thoughts on “Art Without an Audience

  1. I agree that critical analyses are at a minimum in the fractal art world. Perhaps you can get us started by critiquing some fractal art? And perhaps this can be accomplished without discussing the BMFAC or the FU calendar. Not that those topics are not worth critiquing, but doing so in this forum always leads to such acrimony; maybe a new discussion can focus purely on the art?

  2. I second Kerry. I find decent criticism in our little fractal art world sorely lacking, but if you really wish to contribute positively then you must find a way to present your views responsibly, which means that your criticisms should spring from insight and should be presented in a way that will not be perceived as an attack on those at whom it is directed.

    To a great extent I find the tone of your blog to be vituperative. With such a stance you generally get one of two reactions: counterattack or apathy. You will not win any hearts or minds this way, nor bring anyone around to your views apart from others with similar disaffectations.

    For example, if you feel that a tool like UF is limiting the art by virtue of its predominance and the similarity of the images it produces, then by all means present alternatives and get people interested in other means of generating fractal images, spelling out and contrasting the limits you perceive in UF with the possibilities of the alternatives. This is worthwhile criticism. But if your blog is only a bitch about how unfair life is and how poor the work of many artists appears to you, then I suggest that you take up knitting; at least at the end of the day someone will have a sweater to wear.

    So far you guys appear to be our own Crusader Rabbit and Ragland T. Tiger, but crusaders should remain mindful of the God they serve, and under whose banner they march. Righteousness is no substitute for responsibility.

    I look forward to participating in some positive exchanges on the state of the art and the means by which we create it.


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