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Posts Tagged artists

Art, what is it? And who cares?

As I’ve been rendering some of my favourite images again to add to the Zazzle store, I started to remember the days when I was first invited to participate in art exhibitions (10 years ago?), and this idea of “what is art?” came back to my mind again after all these years.

When I was invited for my very first exhibition, I was asked to “define my art” so it could be added to my “resumé”. I found this to be a very difficult task (not only because it was the first time I had to do it) and tried to avoid this as much as I could, but eventually I had to write a short text trying to describe “my art”. 10 years later, I still can’t do it. Because it shouldn’t be defined. And I still think that my art is the same, its definition hasn’t and will not ever change over the years. Because there isn’t and shouldn’t be a definition or explanation for it.

For sure it would be easy for me and “cool” to write a text full of weird words and clichés, but I would pretty much be like everybody else in this “niche” (there goes a cool word for you all!) so to speak. And my art shouldn’t be like everybody else’s art, it should be “my art”, not a concept or a definition. If you sum it up to a few fancy words and tags, you end up making it look like the canned meat you buy at the supermarket, one can is like the other, same content, same taste, same price. My art is unique. And so is everybody else’s. Every artist is unique. Every art consummer (not a good word, sorry…) is unique.

Very often musicians and composers are asked to explain what a certain song is about, how was the composing process, what was the inspiration for that specific song, etc. And how many times are we surprised to know that a certain amazing song that was “the soundtrack of my life” or that “describes me perfectly” was made in a rush, with no serious intentions, or else that it had a very different meaning than we thought it had? I bet that it happens a lot. I remembered 2 stories about this, kind of unrelated to the subject of this post but not that much…:

Paul McCartney started sketching the ideas for the song “Yesterday”, but he couldn’t figure a name for it yet (neither the lyrics were done yet, I suppose). He just wrote on a piece of paper a random name so that he could remember he was writing a possible song and should continue working on that later. And the name he gave to that pre-song was “scrambled eggs” (I think it was close to breakfast time or something). What if the next day he thought it would be just a silly idea or something or couldn’t remember what it was and abandoned it? His masterpiece (well, it’s his most played song at least…) would have never existed.

The Rolling Stones were basically a cover band in their beginnings. Once they were asked to write a song… well… actually they were forced to do it. They were locked in a kitchen (so they say) and were told by their producer at the time to not come out of that place without a song (or songs) of their own. And… Satisfaction was born.

OK, back to the subject. These songs, if described as how they were created, may sound silly. But they are 2 classics. If they are “explained” (and the creation process is part of an explanation in my opinion), they lose a lot of their importance, if you consider that one was made and named after a breakfast, and the other was made purely because it was their job to do a song. The same happens to any form of art – when it’s “explained”, it might lose its meaning to the observer. He, the observer (or the consummer? Not a good word to use again I guess) is the only one that should – internally or externally – explain and define it, and tell what it means or if it means something to him to others or not if he wants to share his definition of that art (he knows what it means to him anyway, so who cares?).

To me, that is what is most important – that the art, in whatever form it is, be important to someone else, that it can be liked (or not…), be seen, be enjoyed, shared, talked about, that it can cause some impact on someone else in any way, good or bad. If you look at a painting or listen to a song and it means nothing to you, to you, that painting/song isn’t art.

After all, it seems I could finally define my art. Or at least define what it’s not. And it’s not a definition.

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Strange coincidence? I’m not sure what to say…

Someone recently asked me if I sell prints of my image, and while doing a search for new places to print the images, I was browsing the art.com “abstract” category. Then just after a few clicks I found this image (click the link as I can’t post the image here)…

… which immediately reminded me of this image from one of my galleries.

Yes, the “woman” is different, but at the same time it’s very similar… mine is sort of “inspired” accidentally by the Abaporu anyway so…

PS.: why is this post being hit by spammers like crazy? 20 a day. Get out.

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Fractals: photography or painting?

I was thinking other day… and suddenly this clearly came to my thoughts: fractals are more like photographs than paintings. I’ll try to explain why I think that way.

Fractal images, besides a lot of different interpretations and meanings, are nothing but graphical representations of a certain formula. Pretty much like that algebra class you had in high school. Although it can be artistic and all that (despite some refuse to call fractal art an art but this is another subject), it doesn’t even start (sometimes) with a blank canvas like a painting. You don’t create anything fractal-ish in the sense of inventing it. These graphical representations were all there already.

Algebra

Yes, a fractal is pretty much like that.

Take any fractal formula, say for example the Mandelbrot. It has a few parameters, but let reduce them to 2, X and Y for the sake of better understanding. The resulting image of the combination of the values of parameters X and Y gives you a certain image, the graphical representation of the combination of these parameters. This combination always existed. It was just waiting for someone to “create” the fractal with these values in a fractal generator software and publish it as a JPEG. Pretty much like the picture of a landscape, for example. The landscape was always there, waiting to have its photo taken.

What is a photograph if not a graphical representation of a landscape or a particular object in a specific moment in time, in a certain (constant, sometimes) environment? Take a picture of a mountain. Then the next day, the mountain will still be there, at the same place, in the same coordinates/parameters. If you go there and place your camera in the same position, with the same conditions (parameters) as when you did a day before, chances are that you will get the same or a very close image to the previous image. This is even more correct if you’re taking for example a picture of say a fruit in a studio. You can move your camera a few milimeters away from the original point of the first photo, and it’s about the same as using let’s say values of 0.000001 and 0.000002 for a certain parameter in a fractal. They are “pictures” of a fractal taken in a different condition, but they still keep the same basic subject, the fractal “structure” so to speak, just like the mountain or the car or the apple is the same.

And what about the post-processing? If you take a picture of a model in a studio with a red light today and tomorrow you use the same model, in the same position, but with a green light… it’s the same as using a different color algorithm in a fractal.

A painting is a bit different, because it’s your own interpretation of something, it’s not something that “is there” waiting to be unravelled. Each artist has a different technique and a way to “translate” things to a painting in his own way, some like to make the paintings entirely abstract, some like to make accurate reproductions making it look like a photograph, and although people can add their “personal touches” to fractals, these are more like a camera lens or some other dark room effect added to the image than a real “personal” touch. But this doesn’t mean that fractal artists aren’t creative. I hope I could make myself clear.

The trick I guess is to find the “right side of the mountain”, the correct time of the day to take your picture. The same landscape might look boring today and tomorrow with a few natural “tweaks” (a word constantly used by fractal artists) it can become a masterpiece. Sometimes it’s a matter of luck, sometimes you have some inner voice telling you to explore a new combination/spot, whatever. What is important is what you can do with that – the final work.

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Prints for sale?

I never thought of actually trying to sell any of my work, but as I’ve found this very nice printing service that does a very good job (digital printing, laminated and all that) and can print reasonably big images, I think I should try to make some prints and sell them, or at least advertise them for sale here a couple at a time. If one gets sold, great. If not, ok. I have no idea how much it could or should cost though. It’s not exactly cheap to print them, but it’s not something worth a thousand bucks. Yet.

Once I saw someone auctioning fractal images at Ebay (where else?…) at 1 cent each – yes, 1 cent, $0.01. They were all someone else’s images (unprotected, without any watermark) that he had collected from several sources and he was offering them at such low prices because he would deliver them by email. You had just to choose which images you liked, and he would send them to you at the amazing price of 1 cent each. Printing at your expenses, of course. I actually watched this auction for a week or so, but fortunately nobody was interested. Not only the images offered were awful but also it was a clear case of theft.

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This is why I should keep going

Many thanks to the guys at Orbit Trap to have quoted my opinions, to slightly discuss them and more, to understood them perfectly. I’m more than anything learning to be honest with my own feelings (artistically and in everything else) so whatever I’ve said here about my disappointments with fractal stuff in general that was repercuted by Orbit Trap is absolutely true. Whenever I say I am hating Apophysis for example, I really do. But I’m hating the Deviant kind of Apophysis – the mass-produced, randomized thing.

I don’t have any personal or commercial links to any of these people (from the evil or the good side of the force) so I just said what happened to me and my creative process during all these years and how to following the self-similarity flock was making me a worse artist and making extremely bored. And I think I could only understand what was going on when I read these posts at Orbit trap pointing me to some obvious things that most people (comfortably) refuse to see, better still have your comment box filled with friends pats on the back than making something you’re enjoying.

I’m touching some sensitive fields now I guess trying the Mandelbulb images (and I’m starting to like them despite hating it at first), as they seem to be the latest hit of the moment, but as there isn’t much of a community or group dedicated to that (not that I have seen) except the few posts at the Fractal Forums neither too many tutorials in the common corporate fractal galleries, which I try as much as possible not to read unless i’m looking for a fix for a problem, I am a bit “isolated” from whatever kind of “style trend” in Mandelbulbs that might be en vogue (sorry for the french) so far and I’m very pleased with the images I’m making even though I can make only an image a week or something. I see a lot of posts mentioning “whipped cream”, “cathedrals” etc. etc. but I have no idea how to do that neither I want to do that kind of thing. I’m using Mandelbulb 3D just like when I first started Fractint: using my instinct. I liked what I did? OK, I’ll save and post. I didn’t like? Let’s start again.

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