Man of the Year

I view Garth Thornton’s recent resignation as a judge in the Benoit Mandelbrot Fractal Art Contest 2009 as a cause for celebration and renewed hope in one’s fellow man.  I know that may sound rather lofty and glorious, but what Garth has done is definitely the most encouraging event that I’ve seen in the fractal art world this year.

As an editor of Orbit Trap for the last three years, and as a silent observer of the fractal art world for more years than that, I’ve seen a lot of self-interest, self-promotion, self-indulgence and just plain self-ism (it’s becoming an art form).

Although I have no window by which to look into Garth’s mind and know exactly what his reasoning was, or to speak on his behalf, the initial trigger appeared to be a debate on  The mere fact that Garth was willing to participate in such an open and extremely frank discussion immediately suggested to me that this guy was different from the rest.  I got the impression that it was his nature and everyday way of doing things to be open and responsive to the opinions of others and to be much more community minded than most are.

That alone was enough of an improvement in the area of leadership in fractal world in my opinion to be noteworthy.  But then, to see someone of Garth’s status in the fractal art world actually change his mind about a controversial issue and express it publicly was simply awesome and honestly, left me stunned.

Most forum discussions don’t accomplish much.  You get the usual posturing remarks and the “me versus you” mentality arising, again and again, as the prevailing pattern in online forums.  My opinion is that forums are where people go to commiserate and to build up a network of people who agree with them –they’re looking for a place to relax, not wrestle with ideas.  Few people honestly debate the issues raised and truly give any serious consideration to  the ideas (if any) that are presented.  Garth, evidently, happens to be one of those few people who do.

I think it’s important, for those of you who may not be aware, that Garth has paid a price for his decision.  It cost him something to do what he did.  He’s given up a privileged position that would have given him extra status in the fractal world.  I don’t think I’ve ever seen this happen before, but I hope others who are in positions of leadership in the fractal art world will take this example that Garth has made of acting according to principles of community building and not just short-term self-interest.

The year isn’t anywhere near over, but I doubt I’m going see anyone better or more worthy than Garth Thornton to receive an award like this.

But who knows?  I’ve certainly found Garth’s actions to be inspiring.  Maybe someone else might too.