Friday, May 25, 2007

interpreting Mr. Kawabe's words

It was pointed out to me that Mr. Kawabe actually has not said some of the things that I have mentioned in describing the demo. Well, this leads right into the most complex question of interpreting. One has to understand that it is not only languages that have to be interpreted, it is also cultures. One example: a quite politically incorrect and on the verge of rude statement is often fine in British English for a British audience. The very same statement to an American audience may well be terrible and disqualifying.

Questions were asked to Mr. Kawabe via the moderator Danny Use. Here some examples: 'Why is it that when pointing out the front of a tree there are MORE branches right in front than on the backside. We have been taught that this is a mistake.' 'We were taught that a bonsai ha as triangular crown with horizontal branches and clear negative spaces in between. Why do none of the trees here show that?' 'We were e taught that one first has to decide about the front and you say that tit does not mater what the front eventually will be for many years during development phase. Where is the clue here?' etc. There never was a clear and definite answer. It always was 'look a t nature'. This in my culture would have been worded 'forget everything they told you, don't look at other masters, don't look at bonsai, look at trees.'But he never used these words, of course.

And then it was pointed out several times by Mr. Use and apparently by Mr. Kawabe that general bonsai practices are often questionable. Like demos in two hours 'finishing' a tree. Or making sure your bonsai looks good all the time in your garden etc.

To understand what a Japanese person really says one has to know a lot about the cultural background. It is more important what was NOT said than what was said. You ask a direct question and always get a very vague answer. For insiders the answer was clear. For someone not used to this the answer means NOTHING. A Japanese person says yes and may well mean no. Go figure! So what does the interpreter translate?

To interpret a Japanese bonsai master one can translate sentence for sentence and leave it totally to the listener whether he understands what is meant. This leads to gross misunderstandings. One can also say what an insider would understand between the lines and say it directly if that is appropriate in another culture. Then some can always come back and say' Well, Walter, Mr. Kawabe never said this in that way!' and that is exactly why he never says it in that way, because that is Japanese culture.

I have seen tree critiques with Japanese masters where they were pointing out quite a few problems as far as I understood. And then I find that folks run around and say that the master found no faults and they he was full of compliments. And I have understood (between the lines) that it is rather crap. So who is right?

So how does one interpret? I travel more than three months every year since many years. I live in a German culture while I am coming from the Austrian culture. In Austria I speak to a non-Tyrolean in a different way than to a Tyrolean. I am a constat wanderer between cultures. I am used to say things in a way that the person undertands them. This means saying the same things according to culture differently with different words. Sometimes it means NOT saying things. And then often it means, using many more words than were used originally.

I tend to interpret one culture into the other culture, because I believe that is if much higher value. Sometimes this has to be mentioned though.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

EBA 2008 in Vienna, Austria

This was the view from my hotle room in Oostende. You see teh North Sea.

The next EBA Convention is in Vienna, Austria. I was born in Vienna in 1944 and then grew up in Tyrol, Austria. I feel like being a Tyrolean. But my Viennese roots are still there, of course. I was asked to do some moderation at the convention, tree critiques and genreal clown. We'll see. I am quite exited about all this and look forward to meet some of you in beautiful Vienna.


Tuesday, May 22, 2007

EBA 2007, the demos - part 8

On Sunday there was demo with the Kawabe school, moderated by Danny Use. It was really a workshop with five participants on stage. They all had a scots pine in various stages of development.

The main point of the demo was to show that the sutdents did NOT DO MUCH. It was pointed out that in general trees are ruined by hurrying and that one only does what is necessary. In case of doubt DO NOTHING. And you should doubt often. The tree has to be in perfect health all of the time. Do not rush your development. Let the tree grow! Do to cut off too much at once. It is absolutely not important for the tree to looks good soon. It can look ugly for ten years and then finally come to it's full beauty.

concerning art there were a few eye openers:

- look at nature and not at bonsai books
- create a tree that looks like it does in nature
- rond tops, lots of branches all around, more branches in the front than in the back!!!
- not horizontal branches with negative space in between
- let nature be your guide.
- do not copy what other artist do. Learn from nature.

A perfect lecture about the naturalistic style.
I had this strong feeling that I had heard all of this before.

EBA 2007, the demos - part 7

Mr Takeo Kawabe was the main headliner of the convention. He was on for a demo on Saturday afternoon. It proved to be very different than the normal demos. I am sure that he wanted to make a point. The point was that the regular demos are counterproductive, kill trees, put the artist above the tree, mis-educate the audience. I could not agree more!
He had a clearly world class juniper which was basically finished a year ago. It was outgrown though because he left it alone for a year. Mr. Kawabe spent one hour to just paint all dead parts with lime suphur. Then he edited the new growth for another 90 minutes. And then it was finished. Sure enough, it was a world class juniper. He made clear that such a thing takes twenty years or more and one could only get there with constant care and attention, taking as much time as necesary. He was absolutely against hacking back trees on stage.

See some pictures of the 'demo'

EBA 2007, the demos - part 6

WP with a collected European spruce, Picea abies.

EBA 2007, the demos - part 5

Xec Fernandez from Spain with a Taiwanese Chninese juniper which had been styled before.

EBA 2007, the demos - part 4

On Saturday morning the next set of demos took place.

Here Tierry Quinchon, France with a Pinus sylvestris and Marc de Beule, Belgium, with an atlas cedar.

EBA 2007, the demos - part 3

Sarka Jasenska from Czechia was the sensation of the weekend. She put all the guys to shame with her Juniperus chinensis from a nursery.

EBA 2007, the demos - part 2

1) and 2) Jean-Bernard Gallais, France, Pinus sylvestris
3) to 5) Dirk Mellemans, Belgium, Picea abies

EBA 2007, the demos - part 1

1) to 4) Carlos van der Vaart, Netherlands, Pinus sylvestris

5) to 7) Klaus Buddig, Danmark, Pinus sylvestris

EBA 2007, people

1 and 2) Solita Tafur Rosade, President of WBFF
3) President of EBA
4) Salvatore Liporace

Monday, May 21, 2007

EBA Convention 2007 exhibit - part 4

1) Zelkova serrata
2) Juniperus chinensis
3) Buxus

EBA Convention 2007 exhibit - part 3

1) Pinus mugo
2) Taxus baccata
3) Pseudocydonia sinensis
4) Juniperus prostrata ?
5) Acer palmatum
6) Taxus baccata
7) Crataegus monogyna
8) shohins
9) Taxus baccata
10) Juniperus chinensis