FORMAL DISPLAY

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FORMAL DISPLAY

Post  mike page on Wed Apr 08, 2009 8:52 pm



Display at the Sei Boku Bonsai Kai annual exhibit at the San Mateo Garden Center, April 4/5 in San Mateo, CA.

The bonsai is Japanese Black Pine. The scroll is "3 Geese Flying" by Susanne Barrymore of Santa Barbara, CA. The accent is a New Zealand Iris.

Mike

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Re: FORMAL DISPLAY

Post  Norma on Thu Apr 09, 2009 4:40 pm

Hi Mike,

This is a very fine display..... the flying geese seem to include the impression of flight from your pine.

Good work!

Norma

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Re: FORMAL DISPLAY

Post  Will Heath on Thu Apr 09, 2009 4:50 pm

Why in the world do people keep putting accent plants behind the front line of the main object displayed?


Mike, if you moved your accent just past the imginary line formed by the front of the slab your pine is on, it woukl greatly improve this display. Remember display is based on the same thoughts as Japanese paintings, the placement dictates distance, lower = nearer, higher = farther away. This is perspective kinda, not the same the west used with shading, but it is still important. Your grass should be closest to the viewer and the scroll with the birds furthest away. The accent and the tree should never be on the same level.

I hope this makes sense?



Will

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Re: FORMAL DISPLAY

Post  Emil Brannstrom on Thu Apr 09, 2009 5:54 pm

Will Heath wrote:I hope this makes sense?

Will

Not really, sounds like another Japanese "rule". IMO, just because lower (i.e closer irl) implies closer or in an imaginary "natural" setting the display doesn't automatically become more pleasing to the eye. Isn't it better if the display can stand on its own legs rather than having to lean on the "nature"-crutch? After all, it is often debated that nature doesn't make great bonsai, why would nature make great bonsai displays? Besides, moving the accent closer also mean it looks bigger relative to the bonsai which IMO doesn't help the illusion.

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Emil

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Re: FORMAL DISPLAY

Post  JimLewis on Thu Apr 09, 2009 8:23 pm

Well, I would not have used the "nature" argument. I would have merely said it looks better that way (with the grass closer to the viewer).

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Re: FORMAL DISPLAY

Post  Emil Brannstrom on Thu Apr 09, 2009 9:02 pm

JimLewis wrote:Well, I would not have used the "nature" argument. I would have merely said it looks better that way (with the grass closer to the viewer).

ok, but why?

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Emil

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Re: FORMAL DISPLAY

Post  JimLewis on Thu Apr 09, 2009 9:53 pm

ok, but why?

Er . . . "why" is in the eye of the beholder. Simple as that. There's no law, or rule, or dictate that says to put it in the front. I just think it looks better. If your eye says differently, by all means put it in the back. It's YOUR display.

(But, by posting a picture, you automatically open yourself to piddling little potshots like these. <g> )

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Re: FORMAL DISPLAY

Post  Kev Bailey on Thu Apr 09, 2009 10:09 pm

I like the display. I'd agree the accent would look better forward. I also think that the geese scroll would look better mirrored, so that their flight is actually away, as Norma (mistakenly?) suggested.

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Re: FORMAL DISPLAY

Post  mike page on Thu Apr 09, 2009 11:22 pm

Kev
Regarding the birds flying away from the tree. I did this once in a display I set up many years ago. Hideko Metaxas, well known expert on Tokonoma display attended the show. When she saw my display, I got reamed!!
Never made that mistake again.
BTW, Hideko is also a recognized expert and teacher in the fields of ikebana and suiseki.

Mike


Last edited by mike page on Fri Apr 10, 2009 4:40 pm; edited 1 time in total

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Re: FORMAL DISPLAY

Post  Will Heath on Fri Apr 10, 2009 12:09 am

[quote="Emil Brannstrom"]
Will Heath wrote:
Not really, sounds like another Japanese "rule". IMO, just because lower (i.e closer irl) implies closer or in an imaginary "natural" setting the display doesn't automatically become more pleasing to the eye. Isn't it better if the display can stand on its own legs rather than having to lean on the "nature"-crutch? After all, it is often debated that nature doesn't make great bonsai, why would nature make great bonsai displays? Besides, moving the accent closer also mean it looks bigger relative to the bonsai which IMO doesn't help the illusion.

Hi Emil,

Sometimes leaning on the rules is what makes a display visually pleasing, in fact, most rules lean toward this goal.

Do you think this display stands on it's own legs as it is?


Will

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Re: FORMAL DISPLAY

Post  Emil Brannstrom on Fri Apr 10, 2009 9:12 am

JimLewis wrote:Er . . . "why" is in the eye of the beholder. Simple as that. There's no law, or rule, or dictate that says to put it in the front.

I agree, I just wanted to know your personal opinion.

Regards
Emil

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Re: FORMAL DISPLAY

Post  Emil Brannstrom on Fri Apr 10, 2009 9:16 am

Will Heath wrote:Hi Emil,

Sometimes leaning on the rules is what makes a display visually pleasing, in fact, most rules lean toward this goal.

Do you think this display stands on it's own legs as it is?


Will

Well, I would have made som other choices but I don't think that fact that the accent it placed where it is stands out as particularly "wrong". Then again, I know absolutely nothing about traditional displays.

Regards
Emil

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Re: FORMAL DISPLAY

Post  Carolee on Fri Apr 10, 2009 10:52 pm

Regarding the birds flying away from the tree. I did this once in a display I set up many years ago. Hideko Metaxas, well known expert on Tokonoma display attended the show. When she saw my display, I got reamed!!

Mike, were you using the same scroll? If so, did you get reamed because the scoll was to the right of the tree? If the scroll were in the same position as in this display but the picture itself was 'mirrored', would it be alright? Thanks for clarifying why you got reamed by the expert.

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Re: FORMAL DISPLAY

Post  mike page on Sat Apr 11, 2009 12:30 am

Carolee
I'll try to explain what I've learned over the years about tokonoma display. I may get some heat for this, but this is my interpretation.
The scroll is the principle element of the display. I know that we as bonsai folks pick the tree first, and then pick a scroll and accent. However, that doesn't change the proper order.
The scroll being primary, the bonsai should communicate with it. In this case, the tree is facing the birds flying toward it. In the case of the accent, it must communicate with the tree by facing it. This brings tree and accent back toward the scroll.
There's an excellent book on the subject of display, titled BONSAI KUSAMONO SUISEKI, by Willi Benz. I reccomend it. Check the link.
http://www.amazon.com/Bonsai-Kusamano-Suiseki-Willi-Benz/dp/3000093222/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1239405847&sr=1-2

I would enjoy having some rational discussion on the subject of display,as I've had an interest in it for many years.

Mike

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Re: FORMAL DISPLAY

Post  Carolee on Tue Apr 14, 2009 1:08 am

Thanks Mike. Knowing the scroll is the primary piece certainly makes a different in how I'll look at tokonoma in the future. Also thanks for the refernce to the book.

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Re: FORMAL DISPLAY

Post  prestontolbert on Tue Apr 14, 2009 6:45 am

I personally see the iris, being marsh plants as relating to the geese more than the pine anyway. How many of you have seen geese in a tree? I've only seen geese land on the flat of a very wide limb. ...just my 2 cents.
-PT

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Re: FORMAL DISPLAY

Post  Will Heath on Wed Apr 15, 2009 4:53 am

Emil Brannstrom wrote:
Will Heath wrote:I hope this makes sense?

Will

Not really, sounds like another Japanese "rule". IMO, just because lower (i.e closer irl) implies closer or in an imaginary "natural" setting the display doesn't automatically become more pleasing to the eye. Isn't it better if the display can stand on its own legs rather than having to lean on the "nature"-crutch?

I'm sorry that I haven't had the time to explain myself fully on this matter, I will do so soon, but for now, consider the following.

The Japanese "rules" apply because Mike choose to create a Japanese Formal display, of which the only criteria for judging is the Japanese "rules" that apply to Tokonoma display. The argument that rules should not dictate the display is valid only if you are not attempting a "formal" Japanese display which is bound by tradition. Speaking of which, with all the recent moves away form Japonism in bonsai, I wonder why we haven't seen more modern displays? The Pacific Rim Collection "Elevations" was quite interesting in this aspect.


More later,


Will

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Re: FORMAL DISPLAY

Post  al keppler on Wed Apr 15, 2009 7:25 am

mike page wrote:Carolee
I'll try to explain what I've learned over the years about tokonoma display. I may get some heat for this, but this is my interpretation.
The scroll is the principle element of the display. I know that we as bonsai folks pick the tree first, and then pick a scroll and accent. However, that doesn't change the proper order.
The scroll being primary, the bonsai should communicate with it. In this case, the tree is facing the birds flying toward it. In the case of the accent, it must communicate with the tree by facing it. This brings tree and accent back toward the scroll.
There's an excellent book on the subject of display, titled BONSAI KUSAMONO SUISEKI, by Willi Benz. I reccomend it. Check the link.
http://www.amazon.com/Bonsai-Kusamano-Suiseki-Willi-Benz/dp/3000093222/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1239405847&sr=1-2

I would enjoy having some rational discussion on the subject of display,as I've had an interest in it for many years.

Mike

Mike, I sent you an email inviting you to the Toko-Kazari in Hanford next month. Hideko Metaxis will display as well as Jim Gremel, Kats Kinoshita, Ted Matson and others. $2,500.00 is on the line for first as well as $1,000.00 for second $500.00 for third. We have an esteemed panel of three judges, one from Japan as well as a museum curator and a surprise judge who has studied in Japan as well as nation wide recognition. He is well known in stone circles on display.

Al Keppler

You in?, send me an email.

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Re: FORMAL DISPLAY

Post  Emil Brannstrom on Wed Apr 15, 2009 4:08 pm

Will Heath wrote:The Japanese "rules" apply because Mike choose to create a Japanese Formal display, of which the only criteria for judging is the Japanese "rules" that apply to Tokonoma display. The argument that rules should not dictate the display is valid only if you are not attempting a "formal" Japanese display which is bound by tradition.


Will,
The only person doing the judging is the viewer. If the viewer wants to put on the "Japanese glasses" he/she is of course welcome to do so. I choose not to, both out of ignorance and for esthetic reasons. Does it only sound strange and reactionary in my ears if we remove the word "display" in the quote above and put "bonsai" in its place?

Will Heath wrote:Speaking of which, with all the recent moves away form Japonism in bonsai, I wonder why we haven't seen more modern displays?


AGREED!

Regards
Emil

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Re: FORMAL DISPLAY

Post  Lee Kennedy on Wed Apr 15, 2009 4:28 pm

Regarding the birds,and there direction of flight,anyone who was at the recent bsa show at willow bog from Marco Invernizzi(bonsai master!)
Who told many people off for a scroll with birds flying away from the tree,in fact we got the memorable quote "Ze birds are pissssed"
Mike has indeed got his birds flying the right way,and they most definitely aren't "pissssed"
Incidentally it would be very common on the lochs of Scotland to see geese flying over pine trees which go right down to the loch shore,so this works for me,for sure the accent could be further forwards or back so the display makes a scalene triangle when seen from above.

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Re: FORMAL DISPLAY

Post  Randy_Davis on Wed Apr 15, 2009 4:46 pm

Sorry gang,

I find the discussion on the direction of the birds to be more than "silly" and infantile regardless of who says it, including so called Masters! Once a bird flys into a tree it must someday fly out and away from it! unless there is some hunter that shot it sitting in the tree. I find this kind of pretension in the bonsai community less than helpfull to extending the craft to new commers.

Just my opinion!

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Re: FORMAL DISPLAY

Post  Kev Bailey on Wed Apr 15, 2009 6:31 pm

Randy, I don't think that newcomers would spend much time considering options for formal display. If you aren't interested, feel free to ignore the discusiion, but please don't dismiss it.

Discussions of elements like this are absorbing to many, especially when putting together formal displays is likely to occur at future shows.

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Re: FORMAL DISPLAY

Post  Randy_Davis on Wed Apr 15, 2009 6:59 pm

Kev Bailey wrote:Randy, I don't think that newcomers would spend much time considering options for formal display. If you aren't interested, feel free to ignore the discusiion, but please don't dismiss it.

Discussions of elements like this are absorbing to many, especially when putting together formal displays is likely to occur at future shows.

Kev,

I'm not dismissive of formal displays or the use of accent plants as part of the display, but to put emphasis on the direction of the birds as being all that important to it is absurd. I would never interject on placement either forward or to the rear of an accent plant, for it's the person putting on the display that's telling the "story". I might put my 2 cents in on the type of accent plant to use if the intent was to reflect plants native to the area of the subject tree and it was asked for by the poster. I can only surmize that if it's important that birds be flying into a tree instead of away from it, the intent is to pet the ego as though the birds are saying "gosh what a beautiful tree! I should land in it" rather than a normal part of the natural world. It's not that newcomers would spend much time considering options, but rather, that they hear the more experienced put so much emphasis on such an absurd concept even if it is "Japanese" in origin.

Let's just agree to disagree

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Re: FORMAL DISPLAY

Post  Lee Kennedy on Wed Apr 15, 2009 7:45 pm

Randy,surely the main object of a forum is to learn and help each other?
People on here are receiving information off esteemed masters and very often have to pay for this information,then share it here for free.
The very notion of the birds flying towards the tree is naff all to do with egotistical birds or artists,its all to do with centering the eye on the image as a whole display,otherwise you end up with the Chinese dancer effect,tree looking one way accent and scroll the other,this is as important as it is to have the apex of the tree looking towards the sashe-ida.Its basic bonsai display nothing more nothing less.

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Re: FORMAL DISPLAY

Post  fiona on Wed Apr 15, 2009 8:11 pm

Lee is right in his centering the eye on the image as a whole point. Whether you want to invoke "rules" or not, it's surely about harmony and balance and to achieve that the various elements have to be... er... harmonious and balanced. Think of a photograph (a formal photograph, not a drunken holiday snap) of a group of people: if but one of them is looking away from the rest the whole photo is thrown out of balance. To me these displays need the same thing, and while the geese flying the "wrong way" might seem spurious, silly, nit-picking and even egotistical and pretentious, it can affect that overall balance and harmony. Little details like this have encouraged me to actually think about the display's effect - otherwise it often just becomes an "oh here's a pretty picture to go in my scroll" approach. Maybe there's something to be investigated in the "why should we do it just because the Japanese do?" argument, but I think any bucking of the trend would come from the elements we use in our displays not in deliberately trying to create disharmony and imbalance.

But then again, it's a long time since I experienced a pissed goose!

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Re: FORMAL DISPLAY

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