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PostPosted: Sun Feb 18, 2007 2:44 am 
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Location: Taiwan
UGLY is beauty was major opinion in Pa Ta painter in later Ming dynasty nearly 450 years ago. Extremely ugly is beauty.
Here my hisbicus , this tree was lucky enough to win grand prize 7 years ago.


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PostPosted: Sun Feb 18, 2007 8:06 am 
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Location: Upstate New York
Ugly Bonsai. I have seen plenty and now will probably see even more. Lets all aspire to create really ugly Bonsai, you know, to elevate the Art form.
I can hear the conversation. "That is the Ugliest Bonsai I have ever seen!"
"Well thank you very much for recognizing my talent as an Artist." You know I struggled before to create World Class Bonsai and never came close, but I think I have a real gift with these butt ugly ones." I would have to agree, a real knack for really ugly trees. Now we can skip exhibits and Art shows and join a traveling carnival and the bearded lady.
If you can not create beautiful Bonsai, why not change the standard to make UGLY the new goal. Congratulations on the brillant plan. By the way, I hope you don't mind, but I hope you will not call them Bonsai. It would be a shame to associate them with real Bonsai.
Regards,
Mark


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PostPosted: Sun Feb 18, 2007 9:07 am 
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Mark Arpag wrote:
Ugly Bonsai. I have seen plenty and now will probably see even more. Lets all aspire to create really ugly Bonsai, you know, to elevate the Art form.
I can hear the conversation. "That is the Ugliest Bonsai I have ever seen!"
"Well thank you very much for recognizing my talent as an Artist." You know I struggled before to create World Class Bonsai and never came close, but I think I have a real gift with these butt ugly ones." I would have to agree, a real knack for really ugly trees. Now we can skip exhibits and Art shows and join a traveling carnival and the bearded lady.
If you can not create beautiful Bonsai, why not change the standard to make UGLY the new goal. Congratulations on the brillant plan. By the way, I hope you don't mind, but I hope you will not call them Bonsai. It would be a shame to associate them with real Bonsai.
Regards,
Mark

OK Mark, let's throw the ball back into your court. Please define an ugly bonsai. Maybe if we know what a truly ugly bonsai is we might more understand what the truly beautiful bonsai is.


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PostPosted: Sun Feb 18, 2007 9:58 am 
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Mark Arpag wrote:
Ugly Bonsai. I have seen plenty and now will probably see even more. Lets all aspire to create really ugly Bonsai, you know, to elevate the Art form.
I can hear the conversation. "That is the Ugliest Bonsai I have ever seen!"
"Well thank you very much for recognizing my talent as an Artist." You know I struggled before to create World Class Bonsai and never came close, but I think I have a real gift with these butt ugly ones." I would have to agree, a real knack for really ugly trees. Now we can skip exhibits and Art shows and join a traveling carnival and the bearded lady.
If you can not create beautiful Bonsai, why not change the standard to make UGLY the new goal. Congratulations on the brillant plan. By the way, I hope you don't mind, but I hope you will not call them Bonsai. It would be a shame to associate them with real Bonsai.
Regards,
Mark

Ugliness alone is insufficient.If it is accompanied by age or expression ugliness seems to add character to a tree.But I doubt you can create an
ugly tree in that sense.
The old oak,which was described as "ugly" is so aged and powerful that
it leaves no doubt as to be recognized as a special tree.
When I saw it,I had to recall an old woman in her late 90's in the mountainous regions of Italy.She was small,her face was wrinkled to the
extent that it looked a bit like the region she was living in,full of crevasses,
so full of life!
So she was standing there and smiling,and then she started to talk very fast but seemingly friendly,and I think she was talking about the weather and her grandkids.That woman was right then like a piece of art.She was
beautyful to look at!
It was mentioned 'Beauty was in the eye of the beholder',well,so is
'uglyness'.
Regards,
dorothy


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PostPosted: Sun Feb 18, 2007 10:10 am 
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Location: Southwest Florida,US
Min Hsuan,
beautiful tree!
A nice container and a nice stand,the presentation,creates a special
condition in which ugliness can convert easily into true beauty.
Isn't it?
If we imagined the same tree growing in the ground somewhere outside
in the forrest,and we imagined there was a dead wild animal laying close
to the tree:Maggots all over the cadaver and partially over the tree,
midnight setting.
Now, that would not be so beautyful.Would it?
Unless you are a professor researching a new kind of maggots,which
you now spotted for the second time in your life.
You would just love them.They might even appear beautyful especially
under the microscope,the tree gets unnoticed..
'Ugliness in the eye of the beholder'.
Still beautiful tree Min Hsuan!
-dorothy


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PostPosted: Sun Feb 18, 2007 10:12 am 
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Location: Upstate New York
Vance,
Thank you for asking this question. It does not matter what my definition of an ugly Bonsai is. I am not asking anyone to accept my taste or values.
My objections are with the agenda that is promoting poorly designed trees and their acceptance as Art. The Pied Piper is leading the way and encouraging more to accept these trees that "are not supposed to look good or appeal to anyone" as the standard of World Class Bonsai. So now we all can proclaim poorly designed or executed designs as great Art.
Trying really hard to be different does not infuse Bonsai with soul, it infuses them with ego. Deep evidence of character and age are appealing, quick attempts to achieve an ugly look are shallow and misguided in my opinion.
Regards,
Mark


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PostPosted: Sun Feb 18, 2007 1:08 pm 
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Mark Arpag wrote:
Vance,
Thank you for asking this question. It does not matter what my definition of an ugly Bonsai is. I am not asking anyone to accept my taste or valuesMark
.
It may matter a great deal to understand what your definition of ugly is. You must have thought this out in order to make the reply you have. As to anyone accepting, or for that matter, rejecting your taste or values is an individual and in some cases, arbitrary judgement.

Mark Arpag wrote:
My objections are with the agenda that is promoting poorly designed trees and their acceptance as Art. The Pied Piper is leading the way and encouraging more to accept these trees that "are not supposed to look good or appeal to anyone" as the standard of World Class Bonsai. So now we all can proclaim poorly designed or executed designs as great Art.Mark

I don't think anyone is encouraging the acceptance of trees that do not, in your words, "Look good or appeal to anyone". Neither is the concept of a poorly designed or executed design been applauded. I am with you in much of what you say, I have seen some really bad Bonsai in my time that would not be acceptable as art or even kitch in my book or few others I know of. The purpose of this article was to bring up conversation, and even debate on the concept of something beyond the actual physical presence of the tree and what makes one tree outstanding and another not.
Mark Arpag wrote:
Trying really hard to be different does not infuse Bonsai with soul, it infuses them with ego. Deep evidence of character and age are appealing, quick attempts to achieve an ugly look are shallow and misguided in my opinion.Mark

I think much of the problem we are running into here is the assignment of terms such as ugly, and beautiful. However and honestly I do not know how this can be discussed without coming across these pronouns. As to being different; different is not the same thing as not being repetitive.
I don't think anyone is trying to make an ugly bonsai; at least not in the classical understanding of the word ugly as being head turning horrible, retched and disgusting. As to ego, you my have hit on something that you did not intend. Ego is an expression of the values of the possessor of that trait. If you can infuse "Ego" into a bonsai you have jumped into that other world we are trying to discuss and define. I know that you were refering to the ego of the designer, but even at that how would that be infused into the tree? Interesting concept I would love to discuss, or have discussed.
It has been said that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, if that is true than the opposite must also be true that ugly is in the eye of the beholder. Sometimes ugly and beautiful mean more than physical appearance.
In my time I have known some beautiful women that when you got to know them they became ugly, because of what was inside, their spirit diminished markedly their obvious physical presence and made them less appealing, and the opposite is also true.
I have known some women that the common ways of judging such things would call homely. But the more you got to know them the beauty of their spirit glowed outward making their outward appearance more appealing and even beautiful. I know I am rambling, I will try to sum up this rant.
It would seem that you are objecting to some of the directions this discussion has taken but to be serious, you have offered little of any substance that expresses any thing other than what you feel, not what you think and why you think it is so, or not so.
I respect your oppinion, I just wish to explore it more than on the basis of "I don't like this and I don't like that".


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PostPosted: Mon Feb 19, 2007 2:20 am 
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Mark Arpag wrote:
My objections are with the agenda that is promoting poorly designed trees and their acceptance as Art.

I hope nobody here is promoting poorly designed trees. That would be rather dim-witted. Given a choice between great design and poor design, I wonder who would pick the poor one?
The problem is that many of us forget that character is part of the design concept. Some of us see predictable patterns and chiches as great design. They forget that great design needs to be fresh and unexpected.
Here are some characteristics of a great design
Mystery
Imperfection
Building a mood
Humility
Sensuality
Spontaneity
Rust of age
Desolate beauty
These are concepts from Japanese design principles, but apply to any culture. Great design is not as simple as slam dunk.


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PostPosted: Mon Feb 19, 2007 6:43 am 
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Location: Upstate New York
Vance,
You may have unintentionally hit on something in commenting on women who were homely but who's spirit glowed from within. That describes a depth of character, not superficial quick tricks. There is honesty, integrity and dignity.
As I look at your trees Vance, I find missing refinement and fine design but they are honest with integrity and dignity. I understand your frustration in finding what is missing in your trees, but they are not what I am objecting to here.
Attila,
You listed some great characteristics of design principles. Fresh and unexpected can be an important element as well. Using crude, quickly shaped odd jins that do not harmonize with the overall design of a Bonsai and trying to pass it off as brilliant Art when it is nothing but cheap thrills is one example. The response from the "artist" is these trees are not trying to please anyone and they are supposed to be ugly. I am saying they are ugly, they have no inner spirit and they only meant to "impress" with how they violate accepted priciples you speak of. I know that some think it is good art to throw a bucket of red paint on the Mona Lisa, I think it is not.
Regards,
Mark


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PostPosted: Mon Feb 19, 2007 1:25 pm 
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Mark Arpag wrote:
The response from the "artist" is these trees are not trying to please anyone and they are supposed to be ugly. I am saying they are ugly, they have no inner spirit and they only meant to "impress" with how they violate accepted priciples you speak of. I know that some think it is good art to throw a bucket of red paint on the Mona Lisa, I think it is not.
Regards,
Mark


I see what you mean here, and I do agree with you. When one tries to react to the conventional by doing the opposite, the result is usually questionable. It takes more than just rebelling, to create something worthwile.


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PostPosted: Mon Feb 19, 2007 4:28 pm 
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Thanks Mark, now we are getting substance from you, and you obviously have much substance to draw from. In a sense you are doing what you think to accuse some of the rest of us of doing; willy-nilly going off the reservation with only an escape from traditionalism being the fundamental and driving force in what we do. In a word, iconoclasm, pure and simple,--- and mindless. The fault in both camps is that of making a judgement from the viewpoint of some prejudice, real or perceived, based on a philosophy that is more of a religion than a concept or idea.
To a degree your objections come from the assumption that no one is thinking through what is being done, just simply doing what should not be done with the sole justification that it is different. Nothing could be farther from the truth but I get the impression that you are not even willing to accept the possibility that there may be a different way that produces equally beautiful results. Just remember that the rules of art are formed by art not the other way around.


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PostPosted: Mon Feb 19, 2007 5:49 pm 
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Location: South San Francisco, CA
Maybe we can distill some principles from this discussion. I'll submit this one for comment and critique.
Your bonsai design should have character, but not be a caricature of a tree.
Mike


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PostPosted: Thu Feb 22, 2007 1:18 am 
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Location: Victoria BC Canada
I will agree that bonsai is art. But these rules of form, and of art and delving into the feelings and the soul are very deep thoughts. I believe every one is missing a very important point. Bonsai is about the tree. It is nature. The rules of the forms are rules of nature. That is how trees grow. Yes there are abstract shapes usually trees distorted some how by nature. There are also trees of simple form like an ancient broom style hornbeam with character, soul, and beauty or is it ugly. If the image created by the artist is logical with nature then it works for me. That may be why the ?sumo? style of Taiwan is far from my favorite. I do not feel the logic, impressed by the technique though.
Bonsai is about nature, creating images of nature or that represent nature. If a tree has soul or character it is often a feature that reflects great age such as bark or nebari or maybe ramification. The good artists will show off a trees best feature its soul.
Chuck


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PostPosted: Thu Feb 22, 2007 3:16 pm 
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Chuck: Please don't think I am arguing with you, I am trying to delve into this a deeply as anyone else.
You made the point that the soul of a tree is it's best feature? That may be true, and maybe not. Having a wonderful old bark, or a lot of dead wood, or carefully manicured foliage pads, each of which can be viewed as a best feature may or may not work according to the rest of the tree. So in my way of understanding what you have written is that it is all summed up in the show-casing of a best feature. Personally I have seen some trees that had one or more outstanding features that did not quite make it to world class bonsai status because the only thing going for it was that one or two outstanding features.
All of these things have to work together to create an illusion. That illusion is one of a natural tree, in that I agree, but that being said I have also seen a lot of natural trees that were as ugly as a mud fence, and I don't mean ugly in the picturesque sense but ugly in the butt-ugly sense. It amazes me how quickly a real outstanding feature can become an outstanding fault if that feature does not fit the tree, or complete an artistic thought of some sort. In other words I may use some really contorted and twisted dead wood feature within the frame work of a broom style. What's wrong with this picture? For one it does not work and not because the elements were not crafted skillfully, carefully, and artfully, but because the element, as outstanding as it is, does not work withing the confines of the over all style of the tree, making an otherwise beautiful element as ridiculious as a tuxedo on a pig. The overall effect of the tree is one of lack of commetment and a conflicted soul, whereing the tree does not seem to be able to choose what it is going to be.
To use a musical analogy again as I am sometimes pron to do; if I take all of the notes in a C major scale and just throw them together without thought to cadence, progression, or tonal center I will come up with musical chaos and not much more. Anything that makes sense will be accidental at best. However someone like Bach can take the C major scale and use it to create high musical art by putting them altogether in a correct and pleasing sequence. First finding a theme, then a chord progression, then making variations on the theme and modulating the chord progression through different keys. I look at bonsai in much the same way as a musical composition, it must start with a theme and progress through that theme until explores all avenues that theme can take it within the parameters of the material at hand.


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PostPosted: Fri Feb 23, 2007 1:47 am 
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Vance
I did say that a bonsai has to be logical with nature. I think that is similar to you saying that a tree with dead wood in a broom style does not work.
That ugly oak that is being talked about looks like an ancient tree; sometimes a tree?s soul can be a sum of its parts. A tree with as much character as that old oak can hold it?s own and the "flaws" can and are over looked. But what if that oak had perfect nebari and taper and still had the other features that make it great it may look even better. Maybe not.
I do believe that the so-called rules of bonsai are based more on nature and physics than art. Some are artistic and some help with the illusion, i.e.; top leaning forward, large in front small in the back. But I still feel that nature?s rules rule. Few can argue that the best bonsai are old or look old. Trees that live to a great age grow following the laws of bonsai. (I won?t list them.) Which came first the ancient trees or the laws of bonsai.
If one follows the laws and grows a bonsai it will be a cookie cutter tree, grow this same tree for 80 or 180 years and you will have a "beautiful" bonsai, a work of art, a work of art that takes technique.
Chuck


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