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 Post subject: Re:
PostPosted: Wed Jul 18, 2007 1:34 am 
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Artists, by the very definition of the word, create art. This fact is undeniable, however the debate as to if it is good or bad art is left up to others who are more knowledgeable on the topic, the artist doesn't care as long as the vision is expressed. The artist can not be concerned with how the piece will be accepted, what the critics will say, if it will be understood, the artist creates, the critic explains. The artist has no choice in what becomes accepted by the community or not anyhow, the artist creates, others decide the merits of the creation.

So let me get this straight so I am fully aware of what you are saying.
Artists by the very definition create art.
But it is only art if you* say its art.


...or....Walter is an artist. He creates art, by definition. If he creates crappy art, it is art but crappy art. If someone says it is good art, then by the subjective opinion of the critic it is good art. That sounds like a lot of built in subjectivity to me. I don't quite think the word subjectivity is quite ready to be striken from the lexicon of bonsai quite yet.
In light of the recent contest and the lack of discussion, I feel that there are alot of people ready to discuss subjectivity in the judeging of bonsai, crappy or otherwise.
*you (inclusive) or any critic
Regards, Al Keppler


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 Post subject: Re:
PostPosted: Wed Jul 18, 2007 11:50 am 
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Al Keppler wrote:
Most artists do not go about creating art. They create bonsai first and formost.

(I assume that the word "artist" was meant to be "bonsaist")
I agree that when we start out creating our first bonsai, we just want to apply what we have learned from our teacher, or our books. Art is the last thing in our mind. But the same is happening when we first sit down to draw a horse, or a landscape. We just want to create something that looks decent and somewhat resembles life.
But then, once we pass that stage, and we still are in the game, there is nowhere else to go but start creating art - unless we just re-create the same replica over and over, and sell it for profit. The joy of bonsai is to play, have fun, and create a vision - the same activities that lead to creation of art. The result, of course, depends on the person's abilities.


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 Post subject: Re:
PostPosted: Wed Jul 18, 2007 12:03 pm 
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Al Keppler wrote:
If someone says it is good art, then by the subjective opinion of the critic it is good art. That sounds like a lot of built in subjectivity to me. I don't quite think the word subjectivity is quite ready to be striken from the lexicon of bonsai quite yet.
Keppler

The concept of "subjectivity" is a tricky thing.
When one person calls something "art", it is subjective. When two unrelated people call the same thing "art", that can raise some eyebrows. When a whole group of unrelated people calls it art, then we can't call it subjective anymore. An observer who is not part of this group, will have to conclude, that regardless of what he, himself thinks, the work in question represents art for that particular group. And that would be an objective conclusion. So, the subjective judgment of the individual critics has become objective reality to an outside observer. The higher the number of these critics, having the same conclusion, the stronger the proof to the outsider that this is an objective phenomenon.
And this is how the marketplace works. The outside observer can accept the realities of this marketplace, or he can live in denial and call it "wrong". The marketplace is a group of individuals, exercising their free choices. The observer cannot judge the outcome, calling it "subjective", and in need of "objective criteria". He has to accept reality as it is. If a group of independent critics calls something "art", then we have no choice, but accept that this is how they see it, and, to them, it is art. Calling all those critics "wrong", we would be in denial, acting like dictators, trying to impose our subjective judgment on them.


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 Post subject: Re:
PostPosted: Wed Jul 18, 2007 3:52 pm 
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Well said Attila!


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 Post subject: Re:
PostPosted: Fri Jul 20, 2007 8:56 pm 
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Attila Soos wrote:
The concept of "subjectivity" is a tricky thing.
When one person calls something "art", it is subjective. When two unrelated people call the same thing "art", that can raise some eyebrows. When a whole group of unrelated people calls it art, then we can't call it subjective anymore. An observer who is not part of this group, will have to conclude, that regardless of what he, himself thinks, the work in question represents art for that particular group. And that would be an objective conclusion. So, the subjective judgment of the individual critics has become objective reality to an outside observer. The higher the number of these critics, having the same conclusion, the stronger the proof to the outsider that this is an objective phenomenon.
And this is how the marketplace works. The outside observer can accept the realities of this marketplace, or he can live in denial and call it "wrong". The marketplace is a group of individuals, exercising their free choices. The observer cannot judge the outcome, calling it "subjective", and in need of "objective criteria". He has to accept reality as it is. If a group of independent critics calls something "art", then we have no choice, but accept that this is how they see it, and, to them, it is art. Calling all those critics "wrong", we would be in denial, acting like dictators, trying to impose our subjective judgment on them.

This recently from the North America versus Europe discussion:
Attila Soos wrote:
I am not surprised that the judges had contradictory opinions on some of the trees. When dealing with bonsai, there are so many tastes and opinions, that it would be impossible to get the same feedback from different people.
I am rather surprised that the number of divergent comments are very few, compared with the total number of entries.

These two quotes seem very contradictory to me. It seems to me that the first quote seems to say that when dealing with art, the "group" will always be in agreement. That is how something gets to be labeled art, or true art. When it passes the test of the masses. The second quote seems to say that with bonsai, taste and diverse backgrounds, surroundings, regional locations, and diverse ethnicities might make bonsai more complicated to place in a carte blanche assumption of being art all the time.
For the record Attila, I am in total agreement with your second quote and reserve judgement on the first. While I agree with it in premise, I think it will fall short in exercise.
Cherrio, Al


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 Post subject: Re:
PostPosted: Sat Jul 21, 2007 1:30 am 
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Al Keppler wrote:
It seems to me that the first quote seems to say that when dealing with art, the "group" will always be in agreement.

Not at all. The group will not always be in agreement. There are a lot of disagreements among art critics.
In the first quote (from your last post), what I was saying is that IF (and this is a big IF) the group reaches an agreement, THEN we (the rest of the masses) need to accept that. The larger the group of experts that agree with each other, the more compelling is their conclusion.
My second quote had a totally different focus. It was talking about the frequency of agreement vs. disagreement between the three judges.
So, there could be no contradiction between the first and the second quotes, because they were dealing with different subjects.
Best regards,
Attila


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sat Jul 21, 2007 11:51 am 
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Quote:
Not at all. The group will not always be in agreement. There are a lot of disagreements among art critics.

So the art of defining bonsai contains some subjectivity. I agree.
Quote:
In the first quote (from your last post), what I was saying is that IF (and this is a big IF) the group reaches an agreement, THEN we (the rest of the masses) need to accept that. The larger the group of experts that agree with each other, the more compelling is their conclusion.

No I don't, And these are my reasons why....(for instance)
Quote:
My second quote had a totally different focus. It was talking about the frequency of agreement vs. disagreement between the three judges.

Still supporting subjectivity in the question of what is bonsai.
Quote:
So, there could be no contradiction between the first and the second quotes, because they were dealing with different subjects.

I thought the subject was the same in each case. Defining the best bonsai. Art or otherwise.
My contention is that when a human being is gradeing anything, be that a term paper, a bonsai article for submission, coins or antiques, they are open to subjectivity. Bonsai is no different. I agree there is art in bonsai, but I don't always agree with those that have said any particular piece is art. If I don't feel its to "my" standards whether a million people tell me so, then I can disagree. Just because its art doesn't make it good.
I get to hob knob with the industry giants in the music business once each year at my Wifes annual convention and awards banquet. There are expensive wines flowing by the magnum each year. My favorite part of the banquet is to find a good location and watch the expressions of those that drink their 200 dollar a bottle wine and wrinkle their face on those first sips. They are not enjoying themselves and it is clearly evident that they do not like the taste of the wine. They drink it and pretend they like it because it is the "in" thing to do. Peer pressure has placed them into a position of influence and this level has said that if your not drinking this vile vintage of cab, you are not in the group.
I suspect a nice bottle of Beringer White Zin would be much better to the pallete, but hey, commoners drink that stuff. I have seen it on the forums. I showed a tree last week with a bottle of Mike's Hard Lemonade in the picture for size comparison. I took some flack for it, like "is that your wifes drink", "were they out of Zima"? Hey I like Mike's lemonade. It is good and I enjoy its flavor. Sure I can afford expensive beers and things like that, but why would I go along with the masses of so called beer experts to dring something I do not enjoy, just to be within the crowd. It's what we do as a society. We class everything, and leave no room for subjectivity anymore.
Take a stand and and stick to it. Be bold, be in opposition. Question everything. All is not as it seems. In emails, Will has referred to bonsai TALK as Babytalk before. Sure they have their share of newbie posts and stick in pot threads. I think the distinction that Will is trying to make is that if your not at AofB talking like we do, then your nobody. There is very good discussion on all the forums and I find good information all over the net.
I find the direction of bonsai within these limits to be on a very dangerous path. In some regards it is trying to elevate the art from the small and thrifty to the rich and famous. Not always the smartest direction. Like the Oenophile, don't push aside your subjectivity for the sake of the group.
Take it from a guy who lives in the largest wine grape growing region in the world. When you open that 200 dollar bottle of Cabetnet Savigion tonight, be assured it was made with 60 percent cheap Cabernet Frank and Muskat grapes from Fresno California.
Best Regards, Al Keppler


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 Post subject: Re:
PostPosted: Sat Jul 21, 2007 12:39 pm 
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Al Keppler wrote:
[ My contention is that when a human being is gradeing anything, be that a term paper, a bonsai article for submission, coins or antiques, they are open to subjectivity.

There is no doubt about that.
The original premise of what I was talking about in some previous posts was that certain works of "conceptual art", such as the "Urinal" are widely accepted amongst art critics as prime examples of this kind of art, and yet individuals with no education in this area are trying argue against that.
My conclusion was that the opinion of these individuals is irrelevant, since the art insitutions around the world have already accepted these works as art. So, if you, Al Keppler, come to me and try to prove that the "Urinal" is not art, I have no choice but ignore your opinion. That's because, unless I am delusional, I have to take the opinions of art institutions much more seriously than yours. It is simply because they are more qualified to express an opinion.
Now, with bonsai, since this art form is still in its infancy, things are somewhat different. The "establishment" in this case is a group of bonsai artists who are widely accepted and respected in the bonsai world. But this "establishment" is much smaller (compared to the other fine arts), and much less visible outside the bonsai community. One could argue that this "establisment" is also very divided (tradition vs. innovation), but we can see a lot of division within the art establishments as well, so there is nothing new here.
To complicate things, we are also witnessing a "changing of guards", so to speak, where the members of the more traditional schools are replaced by artists with more liberal views.
So, I would say that there is much more room for subjectivity in the world of bonsai than in the world of fine arts. However, it is still questionable to argue against the collective opinion of a group like R. Steven, M.S.Lo, and B. Sulistyo, except in cases where there is an obvious divergence of opinion among themselves.
As you mentioned in your comments about wine, snobbery is alive and well in all walks of life. Just because someone has a lot of money, it doesn't mean that he has a refined taste, often the contrary is true.


Last edited by Attila Soos on Sun Jul 22, 2007 4:50 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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 Post subject: Re:
PostPosted: Sat Jul 21, 2007 2:58 pm 
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Al Keppler wrote:
Take a stand and and stick to it. Be bold, be in opposition. Question everything. All is not as it seems. In emails, Will has referred to bonsai TALK as Babytalk before. Sure they have their share of newbie posts and stick in pot threads. I think the distinction that Will is trying to make is that if your not at AofB talking like we do, then your nobody. There is very good discussion on all the forums and I find good information all over the net.

Al, when you guess at the distinction you "think" I am attempting to make, you take the risk of guessing wrong, as you have here.
You would have been closer to the truth if you guessed the distinction I was attempting to make was that some forums cater more to beginner topics and while this is needed in the community, I find it hard to understand why one would not sooner or later graduate to more advanced topics. Preaching to the newcomers may be a noble thing to do and it no doubt fuels the ego of some, but if one wishes to advance then they must seek out more advanced topics and more advanced artists to discuss the same with, becoming the "top dog" on a beginner forum is a path to stagnation.
This would be akin to you, a very experienced woodworker, signing up for a beginning woodworking class, why waste your time, oh sure you may pick up one or two tidbits of information you either didn't know or have long forgotten, but on the whole, it would be a wasted experience. Your time would be better spent at a master woodworkers class, where the very experience teach advance techniques.
As to private emails, you have called a few people over there #@*!!*&
*(*%##^*(&'s a few times yourself, but hey, I won't go there.

Now let's keep this thread on topic, please.
Will


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