Imitation or representation?

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Imitation or representation?

Post  PeacefulAres on Thu Mar 14, 2013 5:21 am

I suppose this question may be one of personal taste, but I would still like to hear what other people think. When I look at a really well manicured and styled tree, I can help but feel that I'm staring at something man made. I suppose that should be counter intuitive. However, I'd relate it to looking at a really nice miniature sculpture or figurine: it looks perfectly scaled, but doesn't feel large. Conversely, there are some trees which lack the same level of ramification or scale that other trees possess, but still feel like a large, natural tree. I think it has something to do with the artist trying to find the essence of what a tree looks like, and providing you with that sensation. Whereas the more manicured trees have an artificial feel, which seems to lack in personality.

My question is to you, do you feel that a bonsai tree is better when it imitates nature or tries represent it?

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imitation or representation

Post  abcd on Thu Mar 14, 2013 9:39 am

Eternal debate !!!
the ideal ( but it's very difficult ) is that the intervention of the human hand can not be seen.
Some trees with a lot of defaults ( particulary yamadori ) give sometimes a lot of emotions .

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Re: Imitation or representation?

Post  dick benbow on Thu Mar 14, 2013 2:44 pm

let's use the automobile as an example. each model year something is changed in the design and then the cars roll out in different colors. You basically like the changes or "new" color but they all pretty much look the same.
A few car hobbyists, love to make changes to the car, chop or lowered, it stands out. Different from the factory.

I think mother nature has the same effect on yamadori trees. your eyes easily pick up on a non "cookie cutter" look. It's pleasing. I think that's why there is such a demand for these trees.

I wish i could lift the level of my own skill to follow a non traditional role in tree development. I think my training of searching for trees that appeal to me done by others, forces me to try and mimic the look. I think if more artists spent time in nature with a sketch book, it might help.

One local artist here, tends to lengthen the time trees are repotted and the "look" of the tree seems more believeable in it's struggle, then the totally healthy perfectly styled look of other professionsals. You can see in this picture that it does not have that perfectly styled, manicured look yet is charming

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Re: Imitation or representation?

Post  RKatzin on Thu Mar 14, 2013 4:04 pm

I guess it depends on what you see in the natural world. I know of places where there are Yew trees growing that have been manicured by deer and elk. You would swear you are looking at something man-made, but they are completely natural.

So when I see a tree with finely manicured foilage clouds I can say, 'Yes, I've seen that out there, and it looks very natural.' Rick

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Re: Imitation or representation?

Post  Khaimraj Seepersad on Thu Mar 14, 2013 9:18 pm

Bonsai is a very personal hobby, and you more or less do what you want to do, when you have mastered the horticultural and design aspects.

It also depends on if you are into showing/exhibiting, my trees are at the back of my house surrounded by a Chinese bamboo hedge on three sides. I have a few purchased as stock that was supposedly about 35 years old in 94 and 96, and a few that I have grown from seed or seedling or cutting at 30 or so years.
I am not really interested in having them stolen, so my backyard neighbour knows I grow trees, and maybe a few of my / their friends.
[ to explain the second reason I don't show , the first is I am not into showing.]

So making a design, either meant to be natural or stylised, as a matter for debate, may not matter at all.

[1] Does it please you ?

[2] Selling would be, does it please the looker enough to be desired?

When I came to the Internet in late 98, folk quickly taught me about - hidden agendas - so the third bit would be, are you planning to impress to have a career as teacher?

At which point, one asks, which way natural or stylised, would get you the students?

Dick - beautiful tree!
Later.
Khaimraj

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Re: Imitation or representation?

Post  Todd Ellis on Fri Mar 15, 2013 12:05 am

Hi Peacefulares,
I like both the manicured trees and the natural looking trees. Both require great skill. I think about the pines, cryptomerias, junipers, all with beautiful pads of foliage, and think about the horticulture precision it takes to get a tree to look that way. The natural trees require just as much work. The ramified Japanese Maples or Beeches which do not show scars are a sight to behold and require mastery that I don't have yet; great horticultural skill indeed!
The flat top or cloud layers of many Penjing require decades of careful tying with fiber - not for the faint of heart I imagine; again horticultural mastery IMHO.
They are all worthy of admiration. Of course, no one can compare to Mother Nature's handiwork; but some masters do come close.
Todd

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Re: Imitation or representation?

Post  Guest on Fri Mar 15, 2013 2:07 pm

The Objective is- 'not to make a tree to look like a bonsai but to make the bonsai to look like a tree"- John Naka

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Re: Imitation or representation?

Post  Khaimraj Seepersad on Fri Mar 15, 2013 2:19 pm

L.L.B,

since when did you stop being an individual ?????? scratch chuckle.
Later.
Khaimraj

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Re: Imitation or representation?

Post  Guest on Fri Mar 15, 2013 2:23 pm

LLB,

You mean the "regards, Jun Smile "?

It says John Naka. I find it I am not worthy to place my name along side his.


regards,
jun Smile


Last edited by jun on Fri Mar 15, 2013 2:26 pm; edited 1 time in total

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Re: Imitation or representation?

Post  Sam Ogranaja on Fri Mar 15, 2013 2:26 pm

jun wrote:The Objective is- 'not to make a tree to look like a bonsai but to make the bonsai to look like a tree"- John Naka

I agree with Jun and John Naka here. Once the bonsai hobbyist understands what John Naka was trying to say, the next step goes like this:

"Well, if I'm going to style my bonsai to look like trees, I need to stop looking so much at bonsai and go out in Nature and look at trees. I need to study why I like that particular tree and how it came to be. Maybe then, I can recreate that look."

I deeply respect the work of the following artists, Jun, Robert Steven, Walter Pall, Arthur Joura (among others as well). With the exception of Jun (I don't know that much about his travels) I know the rest of those guys travel a tremendous amount. Not only do they travel, they study and document trees out in the wild. When Walter Pall was here in NC 2 years ago he went for a hike with Arthur Joura. Every time Arthur comes to our club he always advocates going out and studying trees in the wild, especially weird ones. And one doesn't have to look too hard in Robert Steven's Facebook page to see the guy travels all over the world and documents damn near everything he sees.

To be the best, we have to study the best. And no one dead or alive holds a candle to Mother Nature.



PS - Dick, I really like that Trident.


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Re: Imitation or representation?

Post  Guest on Fri Mar 15, 2013 2:42 pm

Sam,

That's one of the key. I remember, When I traveled with some of these guys, sometimes the group suddenly stops under a huge tree, like under an ancient Chinese Pistachio in "Malacca", everybody is just looking upward under the canopy and branches of these trees. Scrutinizing the twisted tree, branches and root formation like some sort of scientist...or loggers (hehe). And LoMin Hsuan explained his winning Pistachio tree at the JAL World Bonsai Contest... Same thing happened when we encountered a huge "Narra" tree, with battered trunks. And remember we are on a supposed "guided tour"- Imagine how the tour guide might have felt. hehe. But, really that is one of the foundation of "imitating" the naturalness of a tree and transferring that experience to bonsai will yield a very good result.

regards,
jun Smile

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Re: Imitation or representation?

Post  dick benbow on Fri Mar 15, 2013 2:59 pm



Here's another of Dan's trees. I have been enjoying this thread. thanks for all your contributions Smile

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Re: Imitation or representation?

Post  Khaimraj Seepersad on Fri Mar 15, 2013 3:42 pm

Dick another stunner, thank you very much.

Jun, Sam,

given the right conditions a tree can assume practically any form, and thus any design is applicable. However, what we judge as a success if how much it pleases the eye.

While Naka, had a good idea, one should realize that because it is a tree / shrub and therefore grows, any shape would still be a tree / shrub.
It is in the studying of nature and then using the imagination [ imagination being the mind re-shuffling what has been already seen, so it might appear new ] designs are born.

The problem is when it is viewed and feels either too bushy or very manicured.
BUT as I said before, Bonsai is for SELF PLEASURE and if it satisfies you, that is all that matters - unless you wish to show or teach, then you must pleasure others.
Happy trails.
Khaimraj

* That will 25 Cents for every bit of Oil Painter's philosophy I pass onto you two - ha ha.

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Re: Imitation or representation?

Post  Guest on Fri Mar 15, 2013 4:07 pm

"Lingnan" Chinese bonsai style got a more natural feel to it while Japanese style got more unnatural (manicured bonsai). Two pictures below I took in China are very interesting to see because of the possibility of design fusion of the two distinctively different approach.

I took this photo in one of my China travel... I was curious with this tree because It is not so common for a Chinese style bonsai to be so well manicured like a "Japanese" styled tree. It looks so nice but I find it unnatural.



Here is another one...I think in these trees there is already a fusion of "Japanese" style and a "Chinese" style. These style is from the Northern part of China which is quite different from the southern style with more natural feel to it. My conclusion/theory is that based on the difference on the type of materials being used in the upper and lower part of China (upper being the colder part and lower with semi tropical climate) Some techniques used by the "Japanese" styling of trees were adopted for trees like junipers and pines but with the influence of "lingnan" (south) style.





regards,
jun Smile

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Re: Imitation or representation?

Post  Khaimraj Seepersad on Fri Mar 15, 2013 4:45 pm

L.L.B,

I like both, and would happily grow them. Ling nan is supposed to be influenced by Chinese ink paintings, probably before the 1700's and if you look at the World of Bonsai series you can that the Chinese were influenced by their landscape.

I like the designs I see world wide, but know that we have a much gentler and often broader domed tree/s. So I work more with that idea.

This is as you have already figured out a discussion on ---------- Beauty.
Beauty is truth unhidden.

So philosophically each viewer finds a truth suitable to their mind's eye.
We have this type of disussion frequently on the Fine Art forums, folk are always trying to find the optimum.
Thanks for the images, much appreciated.
Laters.
Khaimraj

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Re: Imitation or representation?

Post  Khaimraj Seepersad on Fri Mar 15, 2013 4:48 pm

Just to pull your toe L.L.B, hee hee,

you do realise that the first image has an amazing trunk and ------- a green Chinese worker hat. Laughing Laughing Laughing
Smiles all the way.
Khaimraj

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Re: Imitation or representation?

Post  Guest on Sat Mar 16, 2013 1:11 am

Khaimraj Seepersad wrote:Just to pull your toe L.L.B, hee hee,

you do realise that the first image has an amazing trunk and ------- a green Chinese worker hat. Laughing Laughing Laughing
Smiles all the way.
Khaimraj


A green umbrella. A green mushroom with a rotten trunk.

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


Some of my attempts to create naturalistic style:


















regards,
jun Smile





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Re: Imitation or representation?

Post  Khaimraj Seepersad on Sat Mar 16, 2013 1:36 am

L.L.B.

very natural. Now how do you list them ?

Open form, leaning form, hollowed trunk form?
And then the eye tires of the natural and begs for Informal, Besom, Cascade.........

It is like the Renaissance, Baroque, Rococco..............Neo Renaissance, Ultra Baroque ......

The movement might last as long as you live and teach/exhibit, maybe through your students or supporters, and then it reverts.
Too much of a headache, for a hobby.
Stay well.
Khaimraj

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Re: Imitation or representation?

Post  Sam Ogranaja on Sat Mar 16, 2013 2:50 am

Jun,

Your trees are amazing!!! If be proud to have any of them on my benches. I on the other hand, couldn't care less how you categorize them.

Artists use lies to tell the truth. You're a big liar, friend. Wink

Have a great weekend!!!
Sam

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Re: Imitation or representation?

Post  Guest on Sat Mar 16, 2013 3:01 am

Khaimraj Seepersad wrote:L.L.B.

very natural. Now how do you list them ?

Open form, leaning form, hollowed trunk form?
And then the eye tires of the natural and begs for Informal, Besom, Cascade.........

It is like the Renaissance, Baroque, Rococco..............Neo Renaissance, Ultra Baroque ......

The movement might last as long as you live and teach/exhibit, maybe through your students or supporters, and then it reverts.
Too much of a headache, for a hobby.
Stay well.
Khaimraj


LLB,
Is it important to list them? or name their styles? I believe bonsai styles were just like the perceived "rules of bonsai" It is there only as a guide in design and to go beyond is not a mortal sin. As we study nature, we'll discover that there are infinite types or formations of trees. My question is why do we take only few of those designs and give limit to our imaginations, If bonsai is truly an art there should be no limitations of what we should do.
In art, before the terms like Baroque, Renaissance, Modern, etc were labeled...Those styles were nameless as well, then some wise guys put or tagged them as such to "classify" them easily based on the styles or period that they were made. I believe same goes with bonsai. If these designs were nameless for now, just let them be and let the future "wise guys" named it for us.



regards,
jun Smile


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Re: Imitation or representation?

Post  Guest on Sat Mar 16, 2013 3:06 am

Sam Ogranaja wrote:Jun,

Your trees are amazing!!! If be proud to have any of them on my benches. I on the other hand, couldn't care less how you categorize them.

Artists use lies to tell the truth. You're a big liar, friend. Wink

Have a great weekend!!!
Sam

Thanks Sam! You'll have some good trees in the future, I know!, dedication is all it takes. Wink

regards,
jun Smile

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Re: Imitation or representation?

Post  dick benbow on Sat Mar 16, 2013 3:52 am

fabulous trees Jun, WOW!

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Re: Imitation or representation?

Post  Khaimraj Seepersad on Sat Mar 16, 2013 11:06 am

L.L.B,

what I have been trying to figure out is those - guidelines - for example - the 1,2,3 branch bit is to give a tree it's sense of volume and once you undertand that it's just how to design,

The trunk ratio of 1 to 5 and 1 to 6, seems to be a horticultural ratio for density of branchlets at a given height. However you can do this with a tall, slender trunk as well.

The radial or eagles claw root formation gives visual stability, but does your tree type do this in nature or how good are your powers of observation?

The recent discussion on the pemphis, the stork's leg as display of leaves go or hedging ?

And so on.

I am afraid there isn't anything new being discussed here, just generation upon generation of growers gaining experience, starting to question, looking for answers and in finding them, moving on, if they need to, to philosophy.
Same goes on when you master and are happy with your oil painting technique, you just do.
It is like breathing.

The problem we see with oil painting, is if you have nothing to say.
In bonsai, I think it is if you don't have a natural love for trees, the interest will eventually fade.
After 10 to 20 years I have watched quite a few drop out and take up another hobby. One good friend lasted the 20, but then moved onto orchids.

Wonder what the early Chinese were like, and the first collections of trees ?
Stay Well.
Khaimraj

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Re: Imitation or representation?

Post  Khaimraj Seepersad on Sat Mar 16, 2013 11:51 am

L.L.B,

just a word of caution, you are not here as visual entertainment.
Later.
Khaimraj

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Re: Imitation or representation?

Post  Guest on Tue Mar 19, 2013 6:20 am

Khaimraj Seepersad wrote:L.L.B,

just a word of caution, you are not here as visual entertainment.
Later.
Khaimraj


?

LLB,
Bonsai is a visual art I believe. Personally, I would love to see "visual entertainment" rather than "word entertainment",,,probably it goes with my visual art background.
Try to make a graph of IBC pics for a two year period up to now, You'll see how "visual entertainment" (Nice pictures of bonsai) drops drastically and inversely proportional, the "word entertainment" raise the graph to the ceiling.

More pics later...hehe. Just to help keep the fire burning in IBC.


regards,
jun Smile



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