Conflagration: Why I Withdrew

In early July of this year, my dear friend Cathy suggested I enter a digital art competition. Cathy and I’ve talked about competitions and my reticence to enter them due to previous disappointment with competitions (even the three that I won, sadly). As well, I create art for my own enjoyment: that others often appreciate my art is awesome – but it’s not why I create.

But… but… this particular competition piqued my interest, so I wrote to the organisers asking if the format that I could create would be acceptable.

More than a fortnight after I wrote to the organisers, they inform me that the format I can produce is acceptable so I set about, excitedly, creating this work, tweeting my ideas, receiving feedback from those I engage with, making changes here and there.

I had easily decided on the static images (five of them) I would use for this creation and the titles of each of the static images.

Though a title for the piece as a whole was more difficult.

I created a poll to ask those I interact with to help me decide a title for the creation, and Toby made another suggestion, which I quite liked.

“A Life of Fire” received one more % than the other options.
Poll Result: A Life of Fire wins

I combined that with Toby’s ‘Conflagration’ to get “Conflagration: A Life of Fire”. Now the hard work was done and I could concentrate on the fun stuff.

Though the mechanics of this piece would be similar to my “Others’ Worlds” and “Fractal Spaces”, this creation would be different in that there would be multiple worlds to explore and, a first for me, sounds!

Fortunately, my mate Justin had recorded sounds of me spinning fire some years back so I had the perfect sounds for this creation.

I decided on which sounds for which section, where they would go and how they would be activated according to where you were in the particular world you were visiting.

Eventually, I got the creation to where I wanted it to be.

After a bit of tweaking and creating a version of the creation that would work as an application on a desktop, I was almost finished.

Three weeks after deciding to enter the competition, the work was complete and my entry was submitted.

I then played with the creation, enjoying the experience without thinking, “this needs changing… or this should work differently… or maybe it would be better like”.

And then… and then… and then…

On 20 Sep 2016 (yes – that’s one month after I submitted my creation), I received an email from the organisers:

Thanks for your entry… I’m contacting you because we’ve received a lot of entries so to facilitate judging we need artists who are entering interactive works to submit a video surrogate. Are you able to do that?

I immediately responded, asking for more information about what was meant by ‘video surrogate’. No response until 27 Sep (yes – that’s an entire week after I responded and three days until the entries close:

Apologies for the delay in responding to your message… As of July, my job at the Gallery has been reduced to two days per week, and since yesterday was a public holiday, this is the first chance…

Our preference for all the interactive portraits is to provide the judges with a video recording of someone interacting with the work. Those that pass the first cut will then be set up for evaluation of the real thing.

Instead of informing me of what I needed to know, the representative of the organising first has a whinge about her job being reduced to two days a week. That’s a wonderful example of professionalism, is it not? I write back noting that three days is not enough time for me to create what they are now asking for and informing the organisers that I am withdrawing from the competition and get a response (quickly this time, instead of a week late):

Oh. If it helps, we have extended the deadline for entries to next Tuesday 4 October.

I respond:

Again, thanks, but that’s not enough time for me to create what you are now asking for. Tis odd that you are so quickly responding now, I must say.

Instead of entering it into your organisation’s competition, I’ll be publishing it online – along with the correspondence from your organisation.
Tis more than sad that a publicly funded organisation is so poor at timely correspondence.

And no, the organisers have not responded: I didn’t think they would.