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artofbonsai.org • View topic - The Myth of the Single Front
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 Post subject: The Myth of the Single Front
PostPosted: Mon Apr 17, 2006 3:12 pm 
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This thread is for discussing Will Heaths' article, "The Myth of the Single Front."
http://www.artofbonsai.org/feature_arti ... efront.php


Last edited by Will Heath on Fri Jun 22, 2007 11:56 pm, edited 4 times in total.

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PostPosted: Mon Apr 17, 2006 5:12 pm 
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I agree with the article's premise that a bonsai should be carefully designed from all angles, instead of just one, in order to achieve naturalness from all around it.

Many people suggest that there is nothing new here, since a good bonsai needs to have its sides and back carefully designed as well, since it needs depth. But by saying so, they fail to recognize that in the traditional approach, the carefully designed back and side views all have the purpose of serving the front, and they don't necessarily give us a pleasing view from all angles.

I see a merit in the article by giving us the practical side of showing a bonsai, where the viewer will invariably end up in viewing the tree from an angle other than the front. If the artist fails to provide for these alternative views, the main view of the bonsai will be lost amongst the many other "wrong views". A tree with many pleasing views will be much more successful than a one-sided one.

The other virtue of this approach is that it prevents undesirable shortcuts, such as hiding faults and showing trees with deficient branching.
The shortcoming of the multiple view theory is that certain visual effects designed for a certain angle, will be lost. It also takes more skill to make it work.

But, overall, the advantages of this approach can easily outweigh the shortcomings. Even if the artist will not choose to design every tree for multiple viewing angle due to the particulars of the material, or because he simply prefers the single view approach, bonsai in general will be enriched by considering the ideas presented in the article.


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PostPosted: Mon Apr 17, 2006 10:04 pm 
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I have mentioned it before but it needs to be said once more. Though I believe that for one reason or feature or another a tree is likely to be thought to have a front. I know you can show trees, as Will has in his article, where it is difficult to pick the front because all sides of the tree are pretty much as full of merit as the others. But I don't think this is necessarily consistent with every tree you are likely to encounter. There are some trees where one feature is so dominant that it must be show cased or hidden. A good point would be in the case of a Yamadori tree with a striking driftwood feature visible from one point of view.

However where ever this argument ends up it most certainly will improve the quality of bonsai if all those involved attempt to make all sides of the tree balanced and pleasing as much as possible. I have found in the past a tree that doesn't work artistically is usually out of balance with itself somewhere around its form. Once this problem is resolved the front automatically takes on a better form, if indeed this tree happens to have an obviously identifiable front. I can also tell you that if you have a tree you enjoy looking at it from the back and the sides you have accomplished a great deal more than you might have thought possible.


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PostPosted: Mon Apr 17, 2006 11:35 pm 
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Not every piece of stock is suited for bonsai any more than every tree is suited for 360 viewing. The stock that is not suited for bonsai gets tossed, the stock that is not suited for multiple views, ends up as something less.

However, this article is not so much about three-dimensional bonsai as it is about the false assumption that we can force viewers to view at that one single viewing angle that we photograph our bonsai at. We can't and we never will control the angle of viewing, so styling for that single view only, as many do, is pointless for all purposes but photographs and although photography can be an art form in itself, it is not bonsai.

The front we are taught to display, to style for, to look for, is a myth to all but the photographer.

Enjoy,

Will Heath


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PostPosted: Tue Apr 18, 2006 1:42 am 
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That's akin to saying a car has no "front", because it can be viewed from any angle.
Will, There will ALWAYS be a BEST front, whether you like it, or not. A tree can have 50 'fronts', but one will always stand out above the others.


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PostPosted: Tue Apr 18, 2006 7:35 am 
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Hector,
The car analogy was good since they are designed to be visually pleasing from all angles and they do have a front, however, it is a front based on direction of motion and not visual merit. In fact, autos are seldom photographed from this "forced front" instead they are often photographed from such an angel as to show multiple sides. This is easy to see with the box shape of a auto. Let's get back to the round, shall we?

Hector, how do you assure that what you believe to be the best front is also what others will believe it to be? Would you say I would pick the same front as you would? As I've shown in the above article, people will choose the front that pleases them and not the front that the artist says is the front. In the examples given above, I have shown that many bonsaist can not agree on the front of a tree, and I have shown that basically no one views the bonsai in person at the front or the angle the artist intended.

Will


Last edited by Will Heath on Mon Apr 24, 2006 1:54 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Tue Apr 18, 2006 10:34 am 
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Here is a thread at IBC, showing a wonderful Hawthorn by Walter Pal. This is one of those trees that can give you as many views as you want.
http://internetbonsaiclub.org/index.php ... c=10116.30


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