Chris Johnston wrote:
What it boils down to is simply a reframing of good bonsai design. All great trees have depth and interest, and a lack of major flaws from all angles. That does not mean they do not have a preferred front.
I agree with you that good trees have no major flaws from any side, and they must have depth and be interesting from many angles.
My point was not about the merits of traditional bonsai or any other bonsai.
What I was trying to say is that I consider avant-garde bonsai something that may have a fundamentally different premise than traditional bonsai.
So, I used as an example, a bonsai creation that has no front in mind. This would use a very different premise, which has ramifications through the whole design process.
With traditional bonsai, one can tell which one is the front, wich one is the side, and which one is the back view. No matter now well executed, we can tell which view we are looking at.
An example of avant-garde bonsai would be one designed so that you cannot tell which one is the front, side, or back. The viewer would always have a preferred angle, but this would be the viewer's choice and the artist would not prompt him in any way towards it.
I think this is worth emphasizing: the preferred front is the viewer's choice, without any prompting from the artist's part.
In traditional bonsai this is not possible: the viewer has no choice. The artist "tells us", using special techniques, which is his preferred view, and we either take it or leave it.
Whether or not this approach is feasible, possible, practical, or lives up to the quality of traditional bonsai, is a different subject, and I didn't intend to discuss within the current topic. I was just using this as an example of how bonsai can be conceived from a different perspective.
But I agree that your point is a valid and tested one, just as I agree that we should experiment with new perspectives, without the fear of failure. Failure is a useful part of experimenting.
And I think this is the message of this article about avant-garde bonsai: experiment without fear, something good may come out of it. Sometimes, in order to come up with something new, you have to throw out everything you learned before, and go with your instincts. People will always tell you what you can and cannot do, but you have to ignore them once in a while.
Does this approach guarantee that you will come up with something useful? Absolutely not. But, at least, it gives you a chance.