Holiday Road Trip

Road Trip

How much further or at least self-similar?

[Image seen on a-line skirt.]

Hi kids. Time to pile into the OT station wagon and take that holiday trip out on the fractal art information highway. Let’s see who’s in mood for giving or receiving this year.

Forget that blurred Autobahn scenery. We taking our time lounging on the sleepy two-lanes and checking out Fractalbooker small towns.


Just two contributors on the face page. Dzeni is definitely in the mood to receive — especially eager for your votes to push her up the snowy slopes. Your call-to-action clicking will place her higher in phone book cover contests. And, in return, presumably, she re-gifts you with her vote the next time you enter a contest sponsored by a utility company.

Keith, though, has been having a blue Christmas for going on a month. A fractal apocalypse is upon us, and there’s no rapture bail-out forthcoming. He says his interest in fractal art “is all but gone” and observes that most web haunts are “quiet,” “falling apart,” and “it seems like everyone has stopped talking about fractal art.” He then says:

I wonder if we are in a fractal art recession — that maybe the fractal bubble has burst. Maybe fractal art is fading out. Or maybe it’s just me.

I know. You want snark. You expect me to say something like: Right. Don’t delete your Fractal 401K galleries from Fractalbooking sites just yet. Sorry, Keith, it’s just you. But…

…but, well, maybe it isn’t. I admit feeling glum sometimes when driving through most Fractalbook truck stops. There’s a certain sameness of expression and artistic interior design. It’s pervasive — like a chain restaurant. Is it because the most popular programs produce stepped-on variations of a set number of programmed patterns? Has the old superstition of clinging to fractal program containment for tool-testing purity ended up in a cul-de-sac? How much fractal art is produced with the wall in mind rather than the monitor (or, worse, for a “friend’s” compliment hug)?

Like Keith, I sometimes wonder whether we are now living in an empire in decline. The excitement that once seemed electric, and that (illusion of?) joy of sharing new discoveries with others — no, with artists who could peel back and understand our steps of individual craft — seems lost in a white out. If we’d only tied a rope from our house to the Usenet barn, maybe we could find our way back. If we had a time machine. If there was no Fractabook where everyone’s a double genius halving their brains into left and right pieces of cantaloupe: half artist, half critic.

But, in spite of no sunrises for months in many of the colder regions of Fractalbook, go far enough south and the ice melts to reveal treasure. I still see fractal art I like — but it’s getting diffused and blurring into the boundaries of digital expression. I understand the challenge of limiting one’s tools, but the reverse option is just as enticing. Why not have a boatload of tools at your disposal? That boat is a graphics program like Photoshop. Is the result of post-processing really a polluted fractal art — especially when UF can now mask and layer and import photos? No, in truth, most contemporary fractal art is now polluted, but in a good way. It’s undergoing hybridization. It’s breaking free of its self-limiting craft corner. It’s blending into the overall strip mall of digital art. Perhaps, finally, it can now be just another school — instead of being put out in the snow banks and being forced to watch the real art madrigal feast from outside a frosted window.

But you have to look hard to find true artists who have more on their minds than stroking their egos and socializing in a mega-corporate safe house. And, as recent posts have tried to show, sometimes processing outside the generator box helps.

Ken Childress’ blog:

Holidays, notwithstanding, Ken is generally always in a grumpy mood — ready at any moment to snap at invisible commenters to get off his virtual lawn. Lately, he’s been on a fractal calendar kick. Why whine about THAT calendar when you can make your own using Ken’s do-it-yourself schema? Ken, handier than a Home Depot employee, provides a list of vehicles (his term) for making your own calendars and thus “liberating” yourself from the tyranny of public complaining. Ken says:

So, the choice is yours. Be proactive and do something creative, or continue to whine and complain about something over which you have absolutely no control and won’t change because you decide to complain about it. Chose to do something for yourself, or chose to try to tear down others because you aren’t happy about some aspect of the venture.

I guess Ken forgot that OT beat him to the punch by nearly a year. We put out our official Fractal Alternate Universe Calendar last December. We were proactive. We were creative.

Strange though. We still felt like pointing out that THAT calendar results from an ethically shaky contest. Maybe we need more date-making therapy sessions. Or put up a few more posts that tear stuff down. Or develop a new Herculean undertaking — like The OT exclusive and free 2009 Fractal Alternate Universe Calendar!!! Or, most likely, Dr. Ken needs to heal himself.

But can he? The critic who rails against critics is still whining about us in both of his supposedly Zen-inducing, throw-your-complaining-down posts championing his self-help snake oil of calendar liberation.

Fractal Universe Calendar:

And speaking of calendars…

Ring them bells. The images for the 2009 FUC are once again back online. Now that this year’s model has hit the mini-malls, Avalanche Publishing and the FUC editors must have once more let the dogs out. How have you been able to go on living without seeing this

January by Keith Mackay from the 2009 Fuc.

January by Keith Mackay

[Image seen on the Fractal Universe Calendar Image Galleries.]

image by FUC 2009 editor Keith Mackay or perhaps this

February by Keith Mackay from FUC 2009.

February by Keith Mackay

[Image seen on the Fractal Universe Calendar Image Galleries.]

image and cover selection also by FUC 2009 editor Keith Mackay? And do you truly feel such winning samples represent the finest existing work our genre has to offer comfortably slotted into one of only a handful of current mass-marketed products showcasing contemporary fractal art? Oh, by the way, there’s work by some other artists in the 2009 edition of the FUC, too. You may be surprised to learn that some of them did not even also serve as screeners assigned to help jury the competition.

The Benoit Mandelbrot Fractal Art Contest:

And speaking of competitions…

Santa’s Workshop at this site is dark and nailed up. That way no further blizzards can get in. The place hasn’t changed since announcing the winners and legions of also-rans last year. Not a peep about the 2007 exhibition held in Spain nearly a year ago. Not even a Polaroid of the judges hanging next to the winners. Not one photo or word at all about the 2007 physical installation and exhibit, although there were plenty of power shots of the co-directors smoozing from the year before. It seems you can only read about the last BMFAC exhibition on Orbit Trap. And as far as a 2009 BMFAC? Nothing so far. Nothing — but the silence and emptiness of blank, pixel-less space.

Hopefully, that last sentence doesn’t encapsulate your holiday mood, gentle readers. Bwaaa Ho Ho Ho. Pile out of the car, kids. And be sure to take off your boots. Tim and I don’t want you tracking those messy gradients all over OT’s virtual carpet.

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3 thoughts on “Holiday Road Trip

  1. I submitted for the FUC once…and never again after I saw that the people that run it get in. Oh, and that same spiral, in different positions. And let’s not mention the overuse of iteration coloring!

  2. Those two images by Keith Mackay perfectly illustrate fractal art’s worst tendencies: fussy and garish. Of course you wouldn’t like mine any better; but I don’t apologize, I have a landlord who insists on being paid and no other marketable skills.

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