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 Post subject: Re: Rules: How and Why
PostPosted: Mon Feb 09, 2009 9:22 pm 
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Thank you Vance.
I am enjoying the inculturation process, though I partially agree with you about the father of the modern art form of Impressionism.


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 Post subject: Re: Rules: How and Why
PostPosted: Mon Feb 09, 2009 10:36 pm 
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Wm Tom Davis wrote:
Thank you Vance.
I am enjoying the inculturation process, though I partially agree with you about the father of the modern art form of Impressionism.


Though I am sure you know much more about this realm of art than I, my ignorance of it shows my point perhaps more clearly than your well studied back ground. In my ignorance I view all paintings as paintings. I see an evolution of style, form, and subject matter but in the end Picasso could just have easily painted Buffalo on some cave wall 20,000 years ago and still have been relevant. I mean no offence or demonstrate some sort of disdain for the art of painting, but in my ignorance they are paintings.

In the same way bonsai is bonsai, regardless of the source. Most of us that appreciate bonsai see only bonsai in two major forms: good bonsai and bad bonsai. We can and do argue about Japanese, Chinese, South East Asian, European, and New World bonsai and try to define their differences but in the end all of them look like bonsai, or they look like manure. The world views and cultural influences have only broadened our understanding of, and appreciation for, what a good bonsai is. So in essence the art has not been re-invented but evolved, broadened, and freed up from the binding of a singular cultural point of view.


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 Post subject: Re: Rules: How and Why
PostPosted: Mon Feb 09, 2009 10:54 pm 
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Location: Ojai, California, USA
I agree with your comments about art, regardless of the medium used, that it is an evolutionary process, no matter what form. Point well taken.


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 Post subject: Re: Rules: How and Why
PostPosted: Thu Feb 12, 2009 1:13 am 
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Location: Melbourne, Florida USA
Hey Vance I agree with your major premise that to be an accomplished artist one needs to understand the body of work that developed prior to one’s appearance on the scene. Like they say in court “Ignorance of the law is no excuse.” So learn the bonsai rules before you break them.

An even more basic point is the rules of bonsai have nothing to do with Japan. The rules of bonsai design have to do with the fundamental being of nature and esthetics. For example, the placement of a tree in pot, the height and spacing of branches, the thickness of the tree to trunk, and placement of branches around the trunk all boil down to the natural prevalence of the “Golden Mean” or phi, in design. I won’t go into the math here but the Golden Mean is fundamental to nature and to design no matter what culture (The ancient Greeks used it to design temples, the Chinese designed the ornamentation and doors of the Great Wall using it, even African tribal art uses the ratio, and of course it abounds in nature.) Humans are used to seeing the Golden Mean and design using its proportions looks right. Another driving force behind bonsai rule is the concept of selective compression - how to convey the image of a tree in a compressed package. Perspective is another rule that leads to taper and trunk lean. These rules are culturally irrelevant.

Vance Wood wrote:
So in essence the art has not been re-invented but evolved, broadened, and freed up from the binding of a singular cultural point of view.


Bonsai never truly had a single cultural point of view. The historical fact that a Japanese author penned the first English book on bonsai rules does not make the rules Japanese any more so then if I was to write the rules of bonsai in pig latin they would be my rules to people that speak pig latin. There was/is plenty of bonsai knowledge and lore in other Asian countries, especially China. There are quite a few rules and techniques that never made it to Japan – for example the fiber training of branches into extremely flat pads. Cultural agnosticism of the rules implies a bonsai practitioner can be successful and never refer to Japan.

The styles of bonsai on the other hand can have a regional bias. The trees in Japan grew a certain way that led to the Japanese predilection for their styles. Yet the globalization of bonsai has clearly proven that the Japanese styles only represent a portion of the possible bonsai styles.

Finally just like Copernicus’ heliocentric theory has been displaced by modern cosmology and the Big Bang theory, the rules of bonsai may become obviated by some new discovery that places everything in some unified concept, totally different from what we believe is true today. Like Einstein one needs to keep an open mind.


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 Post subject: Re: Rules: How and Why
PostPosted: Mon Feb 23, 2009 7:34 am 
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Rob, when combining "Principles of art" with a few "rules of bonsai design",
are these rules now cast in stone?
There seem to be two types of rules; the first one to satisfy the way trees grow and the second to satisfy humann perceptions of aesthetics. Of these two sets of rules, which is the more important?


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 Post subject: Re: Rules: How and Why
PostPosted: Mon Feb 23, 2009 8:19 am 
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Louis Nel wrote:
Rob, when combining "Principles of art" with a few "rules of bonsai design",
are these rules now cast in stone?
There seem to be two types of rules; the first one to satisfy the way trees grow and the second to satisfy humann perceptions of aesthetics. Of these two sets of rules, which is the more important?


Are there rules cast in stone? There is one rule, my rule, which I think should be cast in stone. Regardless of which path you take, cultural tradition or not, and which form you choose, your bonsai must be believable at least and considered universally lovely by those who view it, remembering that sometimes ugly and grotesque can have a form of beauty of its own. If this is the result of your efforts the rules or lack of them will mean nothing.

The odd thing about the rules of design is that they are only significant to bonsai that are lacking in something. The not quite right bonsai invites analysis as to what is wrong; usually this is a break down by the accepted perception of "The Rules". The bonsai that achieves my first rule can break every traditional rule in the book and nobody cares, let alone notices.

Of course there are those out there that use "The Rules" like a club, to beat the innocent into submission, or demean someone who has challenged their perceived supperiority.

It is true that we do not have to follow the Japanese model it is none the less true that most of us in the West came to bonsai through the eyes and teaching of that tradition. At the time bonsai came to the West the Chinese tradition was trying to survive the Cultural Revolution; forget about that point of view being taught out side of China or even observed by many. I don't think most of us were aware that the Chines were still growing their form of bonsai until the mid 70"s. The Japanese style had been taught and practiced for twenty-some-odd years by then.


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 Post subject: Re: Rules: How and Why
PostPosted: Mon Feb 23, 2009 10:55 pm 
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Louis Nel wrote:
Rob, when combining "Principles of art" with a few "rules of bonsai design",
are these rules now cast in stone?
There seem to be two types of rules; the first one to satisfy the way trees grow and the second to satisfy humann perceptions of aesthetics. Of these two sets of rules, which is the more important?


No rule is cast in stone, hence my comment about "learn the rules, then break them."

The rules I'm talking about really only have to do with the human perception of asethetics as you put it. The rules on the way a tree grows will not be changed unless you want to kill the tree or can perform genetic engineering. For instance, break the "rules" about photosynthesis and you no longer have a tree. There is some natural behavior( i.e the rules of how trees grow) that fits the Golden Mean but there is an awful lot that doesn't. However, the items that do fit seem pleasing to a human.

Which moth looks better - top or bottom?
Attachment:
Morphing moth.jpg
Morphing moth.jpg [ 120.74 KiB | Viewed 10075 times ]


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 Post subject: Re: Rules: How and Why
PostPosted: Tue Feb 24, 2009 12:56 am 
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Location: Michigan USA
I usually go by my universal rule for bonsai, in my opinion, it is the only rule.

The end result must be visually pleasing.

The path taken, the techniques used, the tools applied, the mind set behind it, the clothes worn, the teacher, the learning process, the time in bonsai, the number of trees owned, none of these things matter.

Who cares that the Mona Lisa is small and painted on a board? Who cares that Picasso broke all the "set" rules of art? Who cares about the European Avant Garde?

I care about the end product, the art, not how many rules were followed or broke to achieve it.


The first moth is more better visually because the two light upper dots are closer to center the focal point and do not draw the eye outward like the ones on the second moth. ;)

Will


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 Post subject: Re: Rules: How and Why
PostPosted: Fri Feb 27, 2009 10:39 am 
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Will Heath wrote:
I usually go by my universal rule for bonsai, in my opinion, it is the only rule.

The first moth is more better visually because the two light upper dots are closer to center the focal point and do not draw the eye outward like the ones on the second moth. ;)

Will


Not bad, but look at the arrangementof the major spots. The natural moth fits the Golden Mean, the other one was photoshopped. I discuss this in my book.


Attachments:
Phi Moth.jpg
Phi Moth.jpg [ 28.64 KiB | Viewed 10075 times ]
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 Post subject: Re: Rules: How and Why
PostPosted: Mon Mar 02, 2009 1:21 pm 
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Rob Kempinski wrote:
Which moth looks better - top or bottom?


The first Moth looks better because the way the image is cropped activates the negative space around it in a, IMO, better way. On the other hand, the second one is better because of the way the spots are spread out. They help activate the whole image so to speak. If the spots are closer together the area around them becomes redundant.

The claim that one Moth looks better than the other based on the fact that the larger spots are almost situated where the Golden mean intersects and that the other spot is kind of where the vertical Golden mean is, all depending on how you crop the insect, sure takes a sturdy pair of "jewels".

Best regards
Emil


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 Post subject: Re: Rules: How and Why
PostPosted: Mon Mar 02, 2009 1:43 pm 
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Emil Brannstrom wrote:
Rob Kempinski wrote:
Which moth looks better - top or bottom?

The claim that one Moth looks better than the other based on the fact that the ...... where the Golden mean intersects ....where the vertical Golden mean is, all depending on how you crop the insect.
Emil


Congratulations Emil, you figured it out, It all depends on where you crop, where you paint, sculpt, prune and carve and whatever. That's the whole point, where you frame your art and place the focal elements is important. If you follow the Golden Mean your design will look pleasing, but as your choice of the moth graphic portrayed, there is no accounting for taste.

Google the Golden Mean and look at a few sites dedicated to this subject. Then your jewels will start to sparkle.


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 Post subject: Re: Rules: How and Why
PostPosted: Tue Mar 03, 2009 2:26 pm 
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Rob Kempinski wrote:
If you follow the Golden Mean your design will look pleasing /.../


No, if you follow the Golden Mean you have a reason.

Best regards
Emil


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 Post subject: Re: Rules: How and Why
PostPosted: Tue Mar 03, 2009 3:34 pm 
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The reason being to have a visually pleasing outcome....


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 Post subject: Re: Rules: How and Why
PostPosted: Tue Mar 03, 2009 4:21 pm 
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Will Heath wrote:
The reason being to have a visually pleasing outcome....


No, a reason to place something in a certain spot.

To me, the Golden Mean is an esthetic dogma that is being motivated by more or less (in)accurate statements about it's occurance in nature and what that supposedly means to human perception. I consider it an ideal comparable to Venus de Milo or the womens "hour glass shape" justified by references to history, tradition and quasi intellectual claims of omnicultural validity.

No one can seriously claim that a design that incorporates the Golden Mean is more pleasing per se than a design that doesn't. With that said, I don't think the GM is complete BS, but that its relevance and importance is vastly exaggerated.

Best regards
Emil


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 Post subject: Re: Rules: How and Why
PostPosted: Sun Mar 08, 2009 12:17 am 
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Will Heath wrote:
The end result must be visually pleasing.


Couldn't agree more. The philisophical arguments presented here are both deep and thoughtful but the fact remains that trees don't study philosophy and can't read the rules. The tree will ultimately dictate the final design. Otherwise it won't ever look "right". Kind of like accidental literati ;)


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