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PostPosted: Sun Mar 20, 2005 2:03 am 
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Location: Toronto
Richard Fish wrote:
I would love to hear the artist's opinion of what
this work is trying to convey, given the differing
interpretations.

So would I.
Should the 'artist' be trying to convey anything, which I doubt, it sure
isn't bonsai. At least not the way I understand bonsai. The tree is a
mess! And no amount of artsy-fartsy mumbo-jumbo will make it a bonsai
for me.
Sorry!
Art it may be.
Bonsai it is not!


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PostPosted: Sun Mar 20, 2005 9:47 am 
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'Art it may be.
Bonsai it is not!'

Reiner,
isn't this quite a bit narrow a view?

If one defines bonsai being only something that comes under traditional style, even then it sounds intolerant to me.

But if one ould agree that there are quite a few bonsai schools which should be taken for serious than it can only be a joke, a poor one.
Or is there only one right religion? Have I missed something?
I would stop bonsai immediatley if that were the case. It is not woth my while to join in with bigots.

I think it is a very good bonsai. It speaks clear and loud and so it is art.
Much more than the overwhelming number of trees that behave according to craft rules.
Walter


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PostPosted: Sun Mar 20, 2005 8:35 pm 
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Quote:
Should the 'artist' be trying to convey anything, which I doubt, it sure isn't bonsai. At least not the way I understand bonsai. The tree is a
mess! And no amount of artsy-fartsy mumbo-jumbo will make it a bonsai
for me.


Plainspeak! How refreshing. It was about time that someone supplied a serious counterweight to all the admiration and poetic expressions of personal impressions. Heaven preserve this Forum from becoming a mutual admiration society. Looking down the list of registered users, I can find quite a number who would agree with Reiner. It's a pity they never speak up.

This is "a tree in a pot", and to that extent, it is a bonsai.
In relation to the fundamental concepts of the art of bonsai, as they are understood nowadays, it is not.

Recent developments in the practice of bonsai art are in part a revival (Note: Not an imitation!) of modes of styling long forgotten, which existed in both Japan and China. Therefore, the term "traditional" is a relative one. Modernisation occurred, and is occurring, all over the world, including in Japan, where styling tended towards abstraction. But we still base our understanding of "bonsai" on the Japanese model. So far, this has given the world the most beautiful miniature trees, so why shouldn't we?

Whether it is right or wrong to adhere to the Japanese model, and the way it evolves, can only be shown by the bonsai that are produced. The proof of the pudding is in the eating. I'm waiting to see what's going to be served for desert in the coming years.
Lisa


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 Post subject: Re:
PostPosted: Mon Mar 21, 2005 12:00 am 
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Reiner Goebel wrote:
The tree is a mess!

If the above was meant to say that the crown is sort of unkempt and leggy, I have to say that it's right on.

But isn't this exactly what the creator of this tree has meant it to be? I thought that's the whole point. To have a messy, chaotic crown.
A tree with an antropomorhic trunk and a messy crown.

So, we do agree, after all. A messy tree, by traditional standards.
The disagreement is whether or not this is bonsai. I am sure, Nick doesn't care what you call it. Bonsai or not, it is what it is. People who like it, doesn't care either. They see a tree that stimulates their imagination. In a creative manner. That's all we can expect from a bonsai. Nothing else. Absolutely nothing else. I would rather have this tree than some of the classical ones that might bore me senseless (mind you that not all of them).

For the people who have a problem with it, just consider that it's not a bonsai. We all can see that it's not a bonsai in the traditional sense anyway.

Even the staunchest opponents of this tree have to admit one thing: if this were a boring tree, we wouldn't be talking about it for this long. Isn't that the biggest compliment for any work of art? Or would you prefer a tree that you forget about the next day.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Mar 21, 2005 12:23 am 
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Quote:
For the people who have a problem with it, just consider that it's not a bonsai. We all can see that it's not a bonsai in the traditional sense anyway.

In the article itself, it was presented as a bonsai, Attila.
For me, it is a miniature tree with a distinct personality.
That absolves it from sinning against bonsai concepts, if absolution were needed.
There is no guarantee that everything that deserves the name of bonsai represents the art at its best, no more than miniature trees of different styles are always attractive. Both can be boring.
Lisa


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Mar 21, 2005 9:33 am 
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Location: Lorton, Va.
"But we still base our understanding of "bonsai" on the Japanese model. So far, this has given the world the most beautiful miniature trees, so why shouldn't we?

Whether it is right or wrong to adhere to the Japanese model, and the way it evolves, can only be shown by the bonsai that are produced. The proof of the pudding is in the eating. I'm waiting to see what's going to be served for desert in the coming years. "

This thinking has produced alot of tired, uninspired, trite bonsai in Japan. Alot of those Japanese trees wear the "emperor's new clothes," so to speak. The basic designs used in alot of classic those trees haven't changed much. There is very little innovation there, expect for the "Pop Bonsai" stuff--which is kind of amusing, but ultimately fluff.

The Japanese are excellent studies and terrific at reproducing intricate designs. I used to work for a big Japanese company. There engineers are ingenious, world class in their abilities. However, when it came to original design and innovation, they were not so keen. The company I worked for was using designs of U.S. origin for their equipment. They offered only high-end bells whistles types of add ons to what was basically an American-designed core. The machines were great in quality and production. But, if you wanted to get a product that broke new ground and offered new capabilities, you had to look to the U.S. and Europe. The Japanese didn't care about making the next break through in design, only in tweaking the design they had

That's what happened with alot of Japanese bonsai, I think. They are replicas of each other. Yes, the trees produced by the Japanese are beautiful. They make those trees wonderfully, but they've been basically making the SAME trees for about 50 years--take a look at the Kokufuten albums. Those trees look alot alike, especially the pines. You see alot of the same designs, or the almost exact same design solutions, appearing again and again and again--yeah the design solution are used because they work, but there's more than one way to skin a cat.

Don't get me wrong. The trees made in Japan are beautiful, but why do I start getting the "thousand yard stare" looking through the umpteenth Kokufuten or whatever Japanese exhibition album? While a short jaunt through a gallery of Nick Lenz's trees, or Italian, or U.K. artists can be like a brisk walk through the woods? It's because looking at the same thing for such a long time, is boring. Trees like this may not be classic bonsai and are looked down upon by the bonsai hoi poloi, but at least they're interesting and a breath of fresh air.

Sorry but you will get no dessert if you look only to Japanese trees for your bonsai meal. You will only get the same very well done, but increasingly bland vegetables, warmed over and over and over...


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 Post subject: Re:
PostPosted: Tue Mar 29, 2005 5:19 pm 
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Location: Hants, UK.
Mark Rockwell wrote:
Sorry but you will get no dessert if you look only to Japanese trees for your bonsai meal. You will only get the same very well done, but increasingly bland vegetables, warmed over and over and over...

Mark,
Your comments are very refreshing. Everyone who studies Japanese society and culture can appreciate this point entirely. Do we want art, or incremental craft procedures in bonsai?
Do we want ever decreasing sizes of the same Walkman, or to invent the MP3 player...?
Regards,
Richard.
PS - I have to hand it to the Japanese when it comes to bi-pedal robots...


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 Post subject: Re:
PostPosted: Fri Apr 01, 2005 9:31 pm 
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Location: Melbourne, Florida USA
Mark Rockwell wrote:
"But we still base our understanding of "bonsai" on the Japanese model. So far, this has given the world the most beautiful miniature trees, so why shouldn't we?
........
This thinking has produced alot of tired, uninspired, trite bonsai in Japan. Alot of those Japanese trees wear the "emperor's new clothes," so to speak. The basic designs used in alot of classic those trees haven't changed much. There is very little innovation there, expect for the "Pop Bonsai" stuff--which is kind of amusing, but ultimately fluff.
The Japanese are excellent studies and terrific at reproducing intricate designs. I used to work for a big Japanese company. There engineers are ingenious, world class in their abilities. However, when it came to original design and innovation, they were not so keen. The company I worked for was using designs of U.S. origin for their equipment. They offered only high-end bells whistles types of add ons to what was basically an American-designed core. The machines were great in quality and production. But, if you wanted to get a product that broke new ground and offered new capabilities, you had to look to the U.S. and Europe. The Japanese didn't care about making the next break through in design, only in tweaking the design they had

That's what happened with alot of Japanese bonsai, I think. They are replicas of each other. Yes, the trees produced by the Japanese are beautiful. They make those trees wonderfully, but they've been basically making the SAME trees for about 50 years--take a look at the Kokufuten albums. Those trees look alot alike, especially the pines. You see alot of the same designs, or the almost exact same design solutions, appearing again and again and again--yeah the design solution are used because they work, but there's more than one way to skin a cat.
.
Sorry but you will get no dessert if you look only to Japanese trees for your bonsai meal. You will only get the same very well done, but increasingly bland vegetables, warmed over and over and over...

Let me say first I am a big proponent of innovative bonsai thinking and styling.

I would like to address the thinking that says the Japanese and their bonsai are not innovative. This argument doesn't hold water.
Let's talk about innovation first. Anecdotal evidence is always suspect. Consider industrial data studied by professionals. The industry data indicates that the USA, Japan and Switzerland have dominated the list of innovative countries for the last decade. Lately though the Japanese have moved up. Researchers Porter and Stern have shown that in the last 5 years the Japanese have steadily moved up the list of national innovative capacity and now rank second to the USA.

Japanese firms have always been innovative. In the past two years, Japanese firms have moved from level 3 innovation (think Kaizen) to level 4 innovation (think Silicon Valley) , meaning they are creating start ups and new products. Dozens of start up firms in Japan are reaching $500 million in annual sales. By 2010 there are expected to be over 450 start ups this size or bigger in Japan. That's about 10 percent of the companies in the Nikkei.

So what does this have to do with bonsai? Not all Japanese bonsai growers copy old styles. There are innovative bonsai designers in Japan. Kimura comes to mind though I have seen innovative trees at Kobayashi's place and in other gardens. (I saw one grower trying to graft pine onto juniper trunks.)

True there are stodgy traditionalists in Japan but there are those in the West too (a few even frequent this site). But there are innovative thinkers in Japan as there are in the West. Humans everywhere fit a bell curve of behavior. Some are always searching for change, some are early adopters, some are later adopters, some fear change, and some never change. This is the process you are witnessing when some one declares a different type of tree as not being a bonsai. National background has very little to do with it.


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PostPosted: Tue Apr 05, 2005 11:17 am 
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"Japanese firms have always been innovative.
"Researchers Porter and Stern have shown that in the last 5 years the Japanese have steadily moved up the list of national innovative capacity and now rank second to the USA."

Anecdotal evidence is suspect, but so is hazy research. You do not define what "innovative capacity" or "innovation" is or how the conclusions were reached. Yo usay the number of start ups are increasing, yet don't say what those start ups do. Do they use technology or ideas unique to Japan, or do they base their businesses on technology that originated elsewhere decades ago?

Name a technology in which the Japanese now excel and trace the technology to its origins. The "original thinking" that produced the first in cell phone, the television, the automobile, the computer and software-- orginated elsewhere. The fabulous refinement of those in quality and features and marketing was perfected in Japan.

Funny you mention Kimura as an innovator. He is. However, one only has to look to the initially cold reception he got in Japan for his designs and question why his biggest following is arguably abroad...


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 Post subject: Re:
PostPosted: Tue Apr 05, 2005 2:50 pm 
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Location: Melbourne, Florida USA
Mark Rockwell wrote:
"Japanese firms have always been innovative.
Anecdotal evidence is suspect, but so is hazy research. You do not define what "innovative capacity" or "innovation" is or how the conclusions were reached. Yo usay the number of start ups are increasing, yet don't say what those start ups do. Do they use technology or ideas unique to Japan, or do they base their businesses on technology that originated elsewhere decades ago?...


Do we have a case of the Tortise and the Hare? It seems to me that you view innovation as only major revolutionary discoveries discoveries that leap ahead (the Hare). In my view (and that of many researchers of the topic) innovation includes much more than that. The laborious plodding, refined thinking, continuous improvement and clever incremental change that improve the quality of life (the tortoise) is innovative also. After all Edison is quoted as saying "Genius is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration!"

Porter and Stern have not done hazy research. They studied innovation and the methodology of their metric "National Innovative Capacity" is described in detail in their publications so I won't bother to go into it here, but it is very well accepted research in the business community.
Even companies that produce mundane products like Soy Sauce can be innovative. For example, Kikomen's business practices in selling soy sauce were so innovative, Harvard business school did a case study of them.

Mark Rockwell wrote:
Name a technology in which the Japanese now excel and trace the technology to its origins. The "original thinking" that produced the first in cell phone, the television, the automobile, the computer and software-- orginated elsewhere. The fabulous refinement of those in quality and features and marketing was perfected in Japan....


Where does one go to trace the origin of a technology? Even something as relatively simple as a cotton stripper has a convoluted and difficult to assess historical lineage. Is the origin of the cell phone a radio, a telephone, a transistor, the polymer in the case, the antenna network, the wire forming process? Every invention is some incremental improvement on work done by someone else. (Unless you believe Al Gore when he said he invented the Internet. )

Additionally, in the global economy it is hard to identify anything as being of one country, however, I can think of several major innovations that came from primarily Japan. Here are just a few.

Engineering Design innovations -Earth quake tolerant facility design Many innovations in this area including Damage Controlled Structures" or "Damage Tolerant Structures", or Smart structures materials that change their characteristics in response to load.

Product Design innovations - Blue LEDs a result of significant basic private research
Product Development innovations Honda's product introduction process
Process innovations Just In Time manufacturing (Toyota)
Medical Amino acid production for bioengineering
Cultural - Karaoke :)

Mark Rockwell wrote:
"Funny you mention Kimura as an innovator. He is. However, one only has to look to the initially cold reception he got in Japan for his designs and question why his biggest following is arguably abroad...


Regarding Kimura's "cold reception" I wonder about the research behind this statement. What is the source of the data and how was it measured? When I look at Japanese bonsai magazines, he is featured prominently in many of them going back many years. Even so, it is HUMAN nature, not just Japanese nature, to view innovators with suspicion and as possible threats to the status quo. The Wright brothers? first flight was almost suppressed. Numerous other inventors were trying to build a flying machine with little success. At the same time, mainstream science was sneering at all these obviously ignorant flying machine inventors. Claims of success were met with accusations of hoax. Charles Darwin?s theory of evolution was met with ridicule (even till today by some). Many other examples exist in the West. Resistance to change is not solely a Japanese trait.

Stereotypical claims about cultures are just that - you may find some anedotal evidence to support any characterization you may care to make, but is it real or accurate?


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PostPosted: Wed Apr 06, 2005 2:17 pm 
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I have read replies to this post with an open mind. I have found it most interesting, but not necessarily educational.

Maleficient means harmful or evil (yes, I looked in the dictionary to make sure). To me, it has this trait embraced in its arm-like branches. The "face" is there as well, although I find it more surreal than natural (if that makes sense). A message is there, a story told. In my opinion, artistic expression has been successfully accomplished. I'm not scared of the bonsai, but it does conjure up images of evil things. Macabre in a way, and certainly not my individual taste. Still, I can't deny that there is substance to that specific bonsai.

Bonsai has been a wonderful teacher in how to tolerate different tastes, at least to me. Just because I don't personally like something doesn't make it wrong outright. Obviously there are limits, but I have learned to appreciate efforts other than those I would attempt myself. So many times that single, unusual part of a bonsai can change the ordinary to the extraordinary.
John


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PostPosted: Wed Apr 06, 2005 2:45 pm 
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If you want to see some really evil looking trees done in a very natural and uncontrived way, check out Walter Pall's recent post on the IBC gallery. http://internetbonsaiclub.org/simpleboa ... 3/catid,7/
If I found myself in a forest of these Linden, Hornbeam and Beech trees , I'd be scared, very scared.


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 Post subject: Re:
PostPosted: Wed Apr 06, 2005 3:11 pm 
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Rob Kempinski wrote:
If you want to see some really evil looking trees done in a very natural and uncontrived way, check out Walter Pall's recent post on the IBC gallery. http://internetbonsaiclub.org/simpleboa ... 3/catid,7/
If I found myself in a forest of these Linden, Hornbeam and Beech trees , I'd be scared, very scared.

Rob,
I have seen this link, very impressive stuff. Forboding is still the word I would use. The style of these bonsai says to me "beware, danger is present", while at the same time having an inherent beauty without specific personality. They tell a story, without question.
John


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PostPosted: Thu Apr 07, 2005 9:40 am 
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I think 'foreboding' is an apt description when regarding the images that Walter's trees evoke, but I think Rob's observation of appearing 'uncontrived' is even more pertinent.


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PostPosted: Thu Apr 07, 2005 9:48 am 
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Where does one go to trace the origin of a technology? Even something as relatively simple as a cotton stripper has a convoluted and difficult to assess historical lineage. Is the origin of the cell phone a radio, a telephone, a transistor, the polymer in the case, the antenna network, the wire forming process? Every invention is some incremental improvement on work done by someone else. (Unless you believe Al Gore when he said he invented the Internet. )

Rob,
There is very definitely a place where an invention jumps beyond an "incremental improvement." It all has to do with the ability to see how how to do it. The origin of the telephone was Alexander Graham Bell's ability to see not only the technologies involved, how to assemble them, but also the foresight to see how that technology and particular assembly could revolutionize.

I also think you may misconstrue my meaning here. I am pointing out that there are an awful lot of similar bonsai in Japan, similar techniques are used to make them. It's hard not to notice those similarities...

As for the Kimura thing, I may be off. I had heard that he wasn't really accepted by the old line bonsai nurseries at first. It is anecdotal evidence and suspect.


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