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PostPosted: Fri Jun 15, 2007 12:04 pm 
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Gone are the days when you play for fun and you consider it a privilege to be allowed to compete.

No, they are not. Thats why I take part in this competition. For the joy of it.
Regards
Morten albek


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 Post subject: Re:
PostPosted: Fri Jun 15, 2007 12:44 pm 
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Larry Harris wrote:
Chuck Hickman wrote:
Sorry Larry but it was a contest to see if We were better than Them.

No need to be sorry, my feeling weren't hurt. It's just some people don't believe in the concept that if your not first your a looser. This seems to be the way sports have gone. Gone are the days when you play for fun and you consider it a privilege to be allowed to compete.


Perhaps it is now time for us to kick out the new ways and bring back the old ways of doing Bonsai! Just for the JOY!
Irene


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 Post subject: Re:
PostPosted: Fri Jun 15, 2007 1:51 pm 
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Larry Harris wrote:
I entered as a learning experience and in expectation of some constructive criticism.

I agree with Larry. People at different level of competency enter a competition for different reasons. At the top level, people enter to win. At lower level, it is the best learning experience. There is nothing more educational then looking at your own tree side-by-side with the top trees, and comparing them.
I remember my youth when I was playing soccer at professional level. There was one thing watching top players play on TV, and imagine yourself playing with them, it seemed easy. But when you actually had to play against them, boy, that was an eye-opener: that's when you really realize how much you need to improve if you want to beat them.
A competition does the same to you.
Beside winning and learning, as Morten said, there is another good thing about contests: the joy of being part of it. If the joy is missing, then one shouldn't do it.


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 Post subject: Re:
PostPosted: Fri Jun 15, 2007 2:02 pm 
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Larry Harris wrote:
Chuck Hickman wrote:
Sorry Larry but it was a contest to see if We were better than Them.

No need to be sorry, my feeling weren't hurt. It's just some people don't believe in the concept that if your not first your a looser. This seems to be the way sports have gone. Gone are the days when you play for fun and you consider it a privilege to be allowed to compete.

I would refer you to some of the things I wrote about in my article, What's Wrong With American Bonsai. Sure it's OK to do things for the heck of it but that does not mean we vilify those who wish to compete, and in some cases compete to win. Of course I am not saying that is what you are trying to say, you just hit one of my hot buttons. However; if it were not for competition there would be no Western Civilization, there would be no civilization---in fact there might not even be a human race----not a bad thing either in some peoples eyes.


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PostPosted: Fri Jun 15, 2007 2:41 pm 
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Now that you mention it in the broadest perspective, isn't competion the nature of life itself? Just look at any Nature documentary - creatures at all levels competing not for the fun of it, but for sheer survival.
We are a product of the above, so competition in any endeavour is just a basic instinct of ours. Why should we deny it? Bonsai is part of being human, so competition is just an extension of that.


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PostPosted: Fri Jun 15, 2007 3:08 pm 
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We all compete, even if it is just against our own self.
Why do we prune, trim, wire, shape, pinch, and otherwise manipulate a bonsai? Is it not to create a form that is within our minds, to express a vision that we see, to release the soul of the tree?
Where does the joy come into bonsai? By simply observing a tree growing in a pot? If that was the case then we certainly would not spend the time manipulating it.
The joy comes from the creation, from manipulating the tree into what we visualize. But does the joy stop there or can more be had when we realize that our creation is on par or even better than other attempts to do the same. Does not joy come also from realizing that we have improved or when acceptance and approval by the community validates our work?
Back to the subject at hand,
Is not the joy experienced by owning a great bonsai different from the joy felt by creating it? Can there be joy in taking credit, purposely or not, for another's creation? The joy can be found again when you re-create a piece because then and only then is it your creation.

Will


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 Post subject: Re:
PostPosted: Fri Jun 15, 2007 3:25 pm 
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Will Heath wrote:
The joy comes from the creation, from manipulating the tree into what we visualize.

Will


Right on, Will. This IS the way it IS! Win, lose, or draw, whatever I enter is 100% my work. Of course, teachers I've learned from in the past will always get credit due in my mind for what, if anything I've accomplished.
I would never enter a contest with someone else's work. There would be no joy in winning.
Mike


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PostPosted: Fri Jun 15, 2007 4:20 pm 
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Understanding that we are comparing art forms there is another issue here that some of us are familiar with, that of intellectual property. If I publish a work of literature as my own but it has been mostly, totally, or in part copied from some other's work then I am guilty of plagiarism. Is this a stretch in this case-------? I wonder? Legally there may not be a case for a law suit but morally there is a comparison that is awful hard to get around.


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PostPosted: Fri Jun 15, 2007 11:26 pm 
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Will,
Your soul-searching presentation of the problem is based on some assumptions with which I repsectfully disagree.
There is one element in bonsai as an art that prevents it legitimately being compared with any other art: perpetual change. The only possible comparisons with other visual arts stop at the conceptual stage. Thereafter, bonsai is unique.
It is impractical to give credit to all involved since the original artist is often unknown, as are the succession of artists who follow. I work on some centuries old hinoki that bear no resemblance whatsoever to their original forms, nor to their forms fifty years ago. Few of the individual caretakers are known. High quality imports are not the work of any one artist, but the produuct of a chain of specailists - virtually all anonymous. You can't credit everyone.
Does the artist (and all who preceded) want credit? Do they want credit thrust upon them? Do their patrons not also deserve credit? I think you'll find there is a little more humility than you might imagine in those who, as part of a chain, produce masterpiece bonsai.
In an exhibition context, the tree should be displayed under the exhibitor's name. This need not be the actual owner, nor the one who is responsible for it. Cedit for the art within a tree exhibited by a wealthy collector who hires a professional is a matter for them to decide privately - not for us to decide on their behalf.
Will, there is one statement which is absolutely wrong:
Quote:
It?s not the bonsai that is being judged, it is the talent that created it that is being judged.

It is always the tree, and only the tree, that is judged. Period.
It matters not from where it came or by whom it was crafted for however long. The best tree wins the top prize.
How on earth could it be any other way?

Colin


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 Post subject: Re:
PostPosted: Sat Jun 16, 2007 1:24 pm 
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Hi Colin,
Thanks for the reply, as you know, I enjoy working these things through, shaking the branches (if you will) and hoping some fruit will fall. You brought forth a number of valid points on the subject, I hope you don't mind if I tackle them one at a time.
Colin Lewis wrote:
Will, there is one statement which is absolutely wrong:
Quote:
It?s not the bonsai that is being judged, it is the talent that created it that is being judged.

It is always the tree, and only the tree, that is judged. Period.
It matters not from where it came or by whom it was crafted for however long. The best tree wins the top prize.
How on earth could it be any other way?


Maybe I can't see the mote in your eye because of the beam in my own? Or maybe we are in agreement, or very close to it, depending on how you view the tree being judged.
I agree we judge the tree, we look for form, balance, line, and many other things including pot/tree relationship, health, etc. We go to great lengths to assure that contests and shows are fair, unbiased, and that the focus is on the tree and the tree alone.
But what is the tree?
Consider the question, "What is art except the result of the artists work, talent, experience, and skill?"
Is not a bonsai the sum of all the artists work, talent, and skill? Would the winning bonsai still be the same tree, still have the same beauty, or still be art if another person would have styled it? Is it not that particular artist that took the raw stock and created a vision of their own with it? Does not the same stock have endless possibilities of which only one is released by the artist and could never have been duplicated under any other hand?
Everything we judge a tree on is a result of the talent of the artist, when we judge a tree, we are indeed judging the talent of an artist. Those trees created by people with no talent will receive low scores and those trees created by people with great talent will receive high scores.
Considering the above statement, which is obviously logical and verifiable, the talent of the artist is indeed being judged and it is being judged by the results produced, which is the tree.

Will


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 Post subject: Re:
PostPosted: Sat Jun 16, 2007 3:06 pm 
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Colin Lewis wrote:
There is one element in bonsai as an art that prevents it legitimately being compared with any other art: perpetual change. The only possible comparisons with other visual arts stop at the conceptual stage. Thereafter, bonsai is unique.

This is true. Other art forms do deteriorate and degrade over time, we restore them, clean them, enclose them in protective environments to preserve them, but the time scale for change is far longer than bonsai.
However, if we are to consider bonsai as a legitimate art form, we must take lessons learned from other forms of art to heart, questions such as credit, ownership, how to organize and maintain a collection, the logistics of showing and judging a showing, display, etc.
We can not get away from the association with other forms of art, this is why we call a group of trees a collection and why the caretaker of such a group is called a curator.
There are other art forms with a shorter actual visual life than bonsai. (In comparison to that fleeting show ready moment when we show and photograph bonsai.) Take Peruvian Fleeting Art or the art of Christo and Jeanne-Claude, for example.
Bonsai does need to be maintained on a near constant level, yet maintenance with the goal of keeping the original design and the original vision intact is a far cry from designing or redesigning a tree. Goshin is maintained on a regular basis and has been for years, as have other bonsai treasures, yet they are still unmistakably the work of the artist that created them. The visual integrity and the touch of the artist has been preserved.

Colin Lewis wrote:
It is impractical to give credit to all involved since the original artist is often unknown, as are the succession of artists who follow. I work on some centuries old hinoki that bear no resemblance whatsoever to their original forms, nor to their forms fifty years ago. Few of the individual caretakers are known. High quality imports are not the work of any one artist, but the product of a chain of specialists - virtually all anonymous. You can't credit everyone.

Yes, you can't credit everyone and the premise of my article dealt mainly with a single artist/owner change. In example, if I purchased a bonsai from you today and then proceeded to show it all over the world, should you not get credit for creating the tree? Is it ethical if I never mention you and let people assume it was my work? Or let's say I purchased an entire collection from a very talented artist and proceeded to show them here and there, again, should not the creator get the credit for the work? Sure, I would own the trees, they would be part of the Will Heath collection, and my name would no doubt be listed as the exhibitor, but it should not be listed as the artist.
Now, if on a drunken night, I took shears in hand and restyled those trees into my own vision, beyond recognition, erasing the vision left by the previous owners, the trees become mine because the vision becomes mine, I am now the artist, for better, or most likely, for worse.
Of course if the original artist is unknown, we can't name them, as in the case of your Hinokis, but with those trees, you have erased the past work and turned them into your visions, your own dreams, there is no doubt that you are the artist.
And not a bad one at that. ;)

Will


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 Post subject: Ego?s
PostPosted: Sat Jun 16, 2007 5:15 pm 
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Maybe this is a stupid question, after reading through some of all these contributions. But why is this subject interesting?
It is not discussing the art of bonsai much, but focusing much on the ego?s behind I think. That is not interesting.
It should be about bonsai instead, and not about who had the hands on a bonsai the last time.
Bonsai is art. What is interesting is what is produced, and not so much who produced it, without demeaning the artist stating this.
Kind regards
Morten Albek


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PostPosted: Sat Jun 16, 2007 5:26 pm 
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Well I guess this would be a prime example of what's being discussed here. This JBP is my latest acquisition to my collection. All of my trees in my collection were purchased at bonsai nurseries through out the years, since I don't have any place to do any collecting. They were purchased though with every intention of redoing their appearence, and with that in mind I never considered anyone other than myself being the artist.
It is all together different with this tree though, since I have no plans whatsoever to change its appearence. That being said, I still plan on entering the tree in contests, but only to limited contests where the tree will be judged as Colin noted, and not the artist. No matter how long I have this tree and how ever many years I pluck needles from it and feed it, and the hours I will spend on it rewiring it, I will never be able to take credit for being the artist. For that I do feel somewhat bad because this will probably be my favorite tree in my collection, and none of it being my own work or creation as you would say. The price you pay for having a beautiful work of art I guess.


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 Post subject: Re: Ego?s
PostPosted: Sat Jun 16, 2007 6:29 pm 
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Morten Albek wrote:
Maybe this is a stupid question, after reading through some of all these contributions. But why is this subject interesting?
It is not discussing the art of bonsai much, but focusing much on the ego?s behind I think. That is not interesting.
It should be about bonsai instead, and not about who had the hands on a bonsai the last time.
Bonsai is art. What is interesting is what is produced, and not so much who produced it, without demeaning the artist stating this.
Kind regards
Morten Albek

Morten, I said the following in an earlier post on this thread: "Geez guys, sometimes I wonder if we aren't worrying too much about the cart, and not enough about the horse."
Thomas Mozden posted a picture of a beautiful pine. If he applies the art and science of bonsai to maintain this beauty, isn't he then an artist? I think so.
Mike


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 Post subject: Re: Ego?s
PostPosted: Sun Jun 17, 2007 12:36 am 
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Morten Albek wrote:
Maybe this is a stupid question, after reading through some of all these contributions. But why is this subject interesting?
It is not discussing the art of bonsai much, but focusing much on the ego?s behind I think. That is not interesting.
It should be about bonsai instead, and not about who had the hands on a bonsai the last time.
Bonsai is art. What is interesting is what is produced, and not so much who produced it, without demeaning the artist stating this.
Kind regards
Morten Albek

Good question indeed Morten.
As of this post there have been 89 replies, 3465 views, and 6 pages of posts. This is obviously a subject that interests people, no matter which side of the debate they are on.
But your question, why, is one I cannot answer. Is the answer, either way, really important? Will it change the way our trees look, will the bonsai community collapse without this subject being discussed? I don't think so.
However, with national shows being planned in America, with the vast collection of world class trees here at AoB, with the contests geared toward attracting the best trees in the world, maybe this subject, at least needs to be broached, maybe it needs to be weighed and see if it comes up lacking...maybe the opinion of the members here at AoB on this subject will form policies and procedures for future activities.
Or maybe, it just is better fodder than a "dying serissa" or "happy birthday" thread?

Will


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