Fresh Winds from San Sebastian

It was called the “International Fractal Art Symposium” and was held in San Sebastian, Spain (that’s in Europe) from June 25th to 27th, 2014.  I first heard about it back in December 2013 in a thread on, but reined in my instant desire to comment about it because something made me think it was more like a private party than an International Symposium and so I thought to myself, “let the poor folks have their privacy”.

But watching the growing list on the “Attendees” page on became a daily, maybe hourly, obsession with me and I soon began wondering if this private party might actually end up being something like a symposium after all.  If you could check the web logs you’d probably find me in there as the most frequent visitor to the “symposium” site.

If you’re going, to San Francisco San Sebastian… Be sure to wear, some flowers in your hair…

Don’t these “International Symposium” things immediately excite everyone?  Think of the enthusiasm that was whipped up in past years by the Benoit Mandelbrot Fractal Art Exhibitions (07, 09, 11).  We’re all hopelessly optimistic or something.  Or maybe we see fractal art as held back by something, or held up by something and this year, maybe, fractal art is finally going to break out.

Break out of where it is now.  Where it’s been since the 90s:  A hotbed of enthusiastic (and talented) practioners, albeit small in number (at this point in time) refining and advancing a real art form (if only others understood it (like we do)) waiting for that critical mass of numbers, and the attention of just one Hollywood scout to alert the whole world to this great breakthrough in art.

 The Future of Fractal Art

Program details

Program details

One hour for a group discussion (starting) with the future of fractal art, and then two hours for lunch.

Fractal “Sharing”; “Show-n-Tell”?  They are a parody of themselves.

I am often struck by the wisdom of saying nothing and I have almost knocked myself out this time when I realize how wise I was not to have said anything about Javier’s Barbecue back in December when I first found out about it.

But why criticize or make fun of something like this? (you may be asking?)  Isn’t it just mean?  And, and… why don’t I try organizing something –constructive– like this and see how hard it is?  Or, and this is the perennial thought in fractal art: “Isn’t it too early to say what’s going to come of this?”

The Wreckage of the BMFACs

What if this is all there is to the world’s reaction to fractals?  What if the audience for fractal art is primarily just the people who make it?  Fractal art is so easy to “do” and is so much fun to play with that anyone who has any interest in the art form is only one free download away from joining the ranks of the “artists”.  As a result, what separates the artists from the audience is often nothing at all.  In fact, is there really an audience at all for fractal art?  Who out there is an avid fan of fractal art and doesn’t have an online gallery somewhere?

The Future we Fear

What took place in San Sebastian is what I think fractal art is and will always be: 20-some people hanging out together:  sharing artwork; telling anectdotes; discussing new programs.  Like an endless fractal zoom where we feel like we’re moving but it never seems to end at anything.  How ironic that the future of fractal art should be a recursive loop.


Not with a bang, but a Print Swap

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4 thoughts on “Fresh Winds from San Sebastian

  1. I really don’t understand. Why do you care what it was called or what they did? I’m quite sure they all had a great time, meeting the friends they’ve made through their art and social networking in person. People with the same interests they have, people that support each other in what they’re doing. Something that is rarely done here. Why so negative all the time? I just don’t get it.

    And BMFAC’s may not have been conducted in a way you agree with, but they were something that at least attempted to move fractal art forward. I doubt many fractal artists expect to be able to make a living from their work. But it’s also probably true with 99.5 percent of all artists in all different kinds of media out there.

    And the old tired example that anyone can make fractal art by downloading some free software is just plain lazy. Anyone can paint if they buy a set of oil paints and some canvas too, or take pictures if they buy a camera, or make jewelry out of bent spoons… And anyone can write a blog. :)

  2. Hi Haltenny; In the art world this “negative” stuff is called criticism. That’s the sort of thing that moves an art form forward. Fractal artists need more criticism and less friends.

  3. Hi Tim,
    That was a confidential event, but definitely worth it as far as I’m concerned. Obviously there are not many people willing to spend too much on flight and hotel just to meet a couple of other fractalists during 3 full days! Especially if you come from outside Europe. So, those who came were really passionate and came not only for the symposium but also some of them in family to visit San Sebastian and travel around the Basque country or even go to Barcelona. What appears in the agenda of the meeting is just the tip of the iceberg. The “real” discussions (on fractals and on life in general) happened at lunch time and in the evening with beers and tapas. I was secretly hoping that you would come over! Would have been great to meet in person.

  4. Haha, i missed you down there, arent you the dude reporting regularly what this bunch of people do? :)

    it was a pleasurable event meeting many people i just knew from formulas, members and software, very interesting, relaxing and fun!

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