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 Post subject: Re: Bonsai is NOT Art, now it's official!
PostPosted: Fri Feb 12, 2010 11:36 pm 
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It's just a matter of time, and waiting (something bonsai artists do well).

The modern art world is so much an academic game of smoke and mirrors and a complex dance of money, investment, misdirection, and widely held opinions. It's as though they say: "don't bother us with silly little garden projects, we are charged with the lofty responsibility of gathering and archiving tangible works that will define our times. Just let us play this game of deciphering the artist's Intention, and then judging the merit of what we think it might mean" (as though the ability to visually capture and verbalize that mysterious process of creativity and creation will unlock all the secrets still hidden in Pandora's box). Bonsai will prove in hindsight, perhaps within the next 20 years to have been pivotal, hugely influential and profound in so many ways.

Art patrons have money, but are searching for 'real' answers, artists have answers to exchange for money - sometimes resulting in the transferring of 'art'. The gallery, the auction house, the Grand Museum, lend 'experts' to help the inquisitive but indecisive. Some renegade bonsai adventurer will have to do something truly Avant Garde, "outside the box" (insert cliche here), "eye opening" and very public to break the invisible line. When Damien Hirst decides to encase an ancient living tree in a jug of formaldehyde lots of people will stand around and speculate 'what it could mean, why did he do that, what does he know that we don't know' (http://www.nytimes.com/2006/10/01/arts/ ... 1voge.html)

Perhaps the most fun could be had in the meantime if we all just play along. Bonsai is certainly NOT art (reverse psychology can be extremely effective)! Bonsai is much too complex and intricate, and requires a great deal of knowledge and experience to even begin to comprehend. Obviously you (writer of grant money, art world insider, and self appointed arbiter of taste) simply can not possibly understand.

~ Michelle


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 Post subject: Re: Bonsai is NOT Art, now it's official!
PostPosted: Sat Feb 13, 2010 12:48 am 
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---and so it goes, these arbitrators of all that is culturally significant and important will continue to gather in elevators ascending in their towers of excellence. Flatulating and sharing the mutual aroma of elitism justifying to themselves and themselves alone. Believing that they above all others know the secrets that make art.


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 Post subject: Re: Bonsai is NOT Art, now it's official!
PostPosted: Sat Feb 13, 2010 2:32 am 
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I made this small transcription among other notes for an interview. The art discussed there is not the art of bonsai, one of the same kind of art, I believe [at this point]:


"Question: Do you think it is necessary to understand the style and the technical rules to enjoy these works, or can we just let it take hold of us?

Answer: I believe myself that, like many arts, this one is not a question of understanding, but it is a question of taste. So, when you live in a society, there is a collective taste, collective appreciation that makes the artist correspond to this taste. What we call ‘the tradition’, today."


The text is slightly adapted to leave specifics of style, medium etc.aside. Leaving source aside intentionally.


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 Post subject: Re: Bonsai is NOT Art, now it's official!
PostPosted: Sat Mar 13, 2010 11:30 am 
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I don't understand why this matters. Unless you want funding for your work or an exhibition of your bonsai or both.


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 Post subject: Re: Bonsai is NOT Art, now it's official!
PostPosted: Sun Mar 14, 2010 4:26 pm 
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Rob MacGregor wrote:
I don't understand why this matters. Unless you want funding for your work or an exhibition of your bonsai or both.


You can ask that question about Bonsai altogether. It only interests those who have an interest in the answer.


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 Post subject: Re: Bonsai is NOT Art, now it's official!
PostPosted: Sun Mar 14, 2010 5:34 pm 
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That much is obvious,but why does it matter. Art or not it is still a worthwhile pursuit. Is it not?


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 Post subject: Re: Bonsai is NOT Art, now it's official!
PostPosted: Mon Mar 15, 2010 2:36 am 
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Rob MacGregor wrote:
That much is obvious,but why does it matter. Art or not it is still a worthwhile pursuit. Is it not?



If one were to count, I'd bet that there are more worthwhile pursuits then arts, any day. The other way around seems to be a requirement [even though some recent forms of art push it a little, at first sight ;)].


ll in all, I doubt that this is a question of making some cut. Finding a yardstick for what is and isn't art is no very practical, although a straightforward definition calls for one - too many things are Art these days. Perhaps this is not just my opinion; there are obvious difficulties... The following sure is just an opinion, so far:


It doesn't take allot of searching to find out that from choosing a medium and an idea to having the result minted as 'Art' could take as little as a few years. Having anyone else doing anything similar is not a requirement - possibly the opposite. Even having a public has become a debatable requirement. Having a buyer has always been a debatable requirement for 'Art' - it goes without saying. The classical arts are allot easier to admire now that seemingly everything has bee said about them, but their practice has not been open to private pursuits since longer then anyone can remember how that used to work. Crafts hundreds of years old are a rarefied oddity with similar constraints. Bonsai somehow gets away with allot modern arts aspire to be, and it has been around for a while longer all stacked head to tail. As an Art, it is quite an invention [*], if it only were easier to talk about arts this way... [this place has allot of patience to spare!]


Just a thought...

__
* - I am reading something similar in Michelle's post above. Right?


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 Post subject: Re: Bonsai is NOT Art, now it's official!
PostPosted: Mon Mar 15, 2010 7:59 am 
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I found your reply very interesting, Ana, and you .made some valid points.
That being said, I personally don't care what people choose to call bonsai.
Still I wonder, Why does it matter that bonsai is art or not?
I'm just wondering if some involved with bonsai want to be able to call themselves artists and would like some external validation for doing so or is there some sense of status involved with bonsai as "art" rather than hobby?
Is this debate about bonsai or the people who practice bonsai?


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 Post subject: Re: Bonsai is NOT Art, now it's official!
PostPosted: Mon Mar 15, 2010 10:01 am 
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Rob MacGregor wrote:
Is this debate about bonsai or the people who practice bonsai?


You tell me... I am guessing that in most circumstances the questions 'is this art' and 'are you an artist' might have something interesting between them. Wouldn't hold high hopes for a poll on value judgements though.

I can only say which part interests me: how the debate about bonsai matters for those who practice, and for the talk about arts taken as far from any comfortable academic niche as I can make sense of. Which isn't saying I would not pay my respects to those long words and all [or else I'd need to reinvent the wheel a few times a week, not much fun there], only that I very much prefer it when allot of their meaning boils down into a short punch line with desirable properties. It is a thrill best shared ;)


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 Post subject: Re: Bonsai is NOT Art, now it's official!
PostPosted: Mon Mar 15, 2010 5:14 pm 
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Ana Veler wrote:
Rob MacGregor wrote:
Is this debate about bonsai or the people who practice bonsai?


You tell me... I am guessing that in most circumstances the questions 'is this art' and 'are you an artist' might have something interesting between them. Wouldn't hold high hopes for a poll on value judgements though.

I can only say which part interests me: how the debate about bonsai matters for those who practice, and for the talk about arts taken as far from any comfortable academic niche as I can make sense of. Which isn't saying I would not pay my respects to those long words and all [or else I'd need to reinvent the wheel a few times a week, not much fun there], only that I very much prefer it when allot of their meaning boils down into a short punch line with desirable properties. It is a thrill best shared ;)

It kind of boils down to George Carlin's argument as to whether hockey is a sport or an activity: His answer is that hokey is an activity because it does not use a ball.


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 Post subject: Re: Bonsai is NOT Art, now it's official!
PostPosted: Mon Mar 15, 2010 5:31 pm 
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I am not asking if bonsai is art or not. Rather I am wondering why, or even if it matters.


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 Post subject: Re: Bonsai is NOT Art, now it's official!
PostPosted: Mon Mar 15, 2010 5:52 pm 
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Wait a minute, Carlin had at least three more reasons for it, all good!

I'd bet he would have nailed it why asking this particular Q matters too. His kind of answers would be reason enough for asking... Geoge Carlin did have a way to define his art [the apparent reason for having it - because he was asked; I cannot remember where it was given - some interview.].

Perhaps this is simply one of those hopeless questions that tend to get surprisingly good answers every now and then?


[n.b. not looking forward to bonsai in formaldehyde, or whatever-you-call-it classified somewhere towards to bottom of the pile with Hirst on top... /Michele makes short work of the argument above].


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 Post subject: Re: Bonsai IS Art, now it's official! -at least in the USA
PostPosted: Mon Mar 15, 2010 6:31 pm 
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The Americans are a step ahead of the British where bonsai as art is concerned.

I am a bonsai apprentice whose study is funded by the New Hampshire State Council of the Arts. This Funding comes from appropriations from the Governor and the New Hampshire State Legislature and from the National Endowment for the Arts, a federal agency supported with appropriations from the President and the United States Congress.

Bonsai is art - at least in the US.


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 Post subject: Re: Bonsai is NOT Art, now it's official!
PostPosted: Mon Mar 15, 2010 8:57 pm 
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Go USA! I'm glad to hear we're ahead in at least one thing, it's good for moral and keeps our spirits up ;-). Thank you Candy, for such a definitive statement with supporting evidence.

Rob ~ as to whether it matters or not how people choose to categorize bonsai and themselves (keen insight, by the way), from a practical point of view it matters quite a bit. If Bill Valavanis were to have national distribution for his albums containing photos of all the trees exhibited at the U.S. National Exhibitions, on which shelf would it be sold at Barnes and Noble... 'Art' or 'Gardening'?

The internal workings of the bonsai businesses and organizations are affected as well. How money moves around is impacted by debatable though innocuous labels and titles. And when money is involved people tend to find they have an opinion after all, especially if it's theirs. When people can make a living 'brokering' art transactions, and capitalizing on developing trends within a specific niche market, it comes alive in ways that hobby markets do not.

I think the difference depends in large part on the actual item having value in addition to the intangible joy experienced by the enthusiast/artist in the making of it, regardless of the results. For this part of the equation there must be a market, willing and ready to buy. A jigsaw puzzle is worth the same amount of money whether it's put together or still in pieces. Paint smeared on a canvas can be worth more or less than it's value in the tube depending on who does the smearing. Stamp collecting: it's fun, but easily categorized. Stamps are worth what they're worth based on supply, demand, condition, historical or aesthetic content, not subjective evaluations of artistic merit. There needs to be a bigger jump in original value of raw materials to finished (in this case not quite finished) product to get exciting.

Bonsai easily can be categorized as both. If someone purchases all the materials for x amount and spends 3 years working to create a product that is still worth x amount, or less than x, he has been engaged in a personally rewarding and enjoyable hobby. If the materials are purchased for x and 3 years later are worth 50 times x as evidenced by the appreciation of the rest of the community to eagerly purchase said item, an argument could be made that the creator is an artist engaged in a personally and financially rewarding artistic endeavor. You have to make something better than what you started with. Better being more interesting, more evocative, more expressive, more technically exacting, more something of significance, more collectible, more valuable, and worthy of admiration.

I am not a physicist or mathematician but I have a feeling there is a higher vibrational frequency around the word 'art' than around 'hobby'. Something that is mutually agreed upon within a culture to be art is subconsciously given a greater monetary value based on our conditioned response to that word.

Michelle


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 Post subject: Re: Bonsai is NOT Art, now it's official!
PostPosted: Tue Mar 16, 2010 9:19 am 
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Thanks Michelle, very thoughtful writing.
I was afraid This might all be about money and or status somehow.
I have always felt that premium prices on less than premium bonsai has been a liability in the advancement of bonsai.
The idea that bonsai are expensive, I believe, keeps many from taking up the practice of bonsai.
I personally believe making money from selling bonsai. is great,but that is NOT why I started working with bonsai. I love nature, trees and bonsai. The money is incidental.
My fear is that the love of money and status will overshadow what is really special about bonsai, The direct relationship between an individual and nature.Certainly now as we separate our selves as a species further and further from the natural world this is needed in our lives.
Again, I don't care what you call bonsai though I do care what happens to it in the future.


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