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art and technology


This thread started out as a discussion of aquascapes and broke down to a 
discussion of personalities.  Now it's little more than a waste of time. But 
for some reason I'm going to waste my time anyway.  There are a few 
statements from various posts that I'd like to pull together in one letter.

Arthur wrote:

> I'm making an argument.  I'm trying to influence people.  I don't intend to
> be transparent regarding my motives.  I suck.  You suck.  We all suck.
> Let's get better.  Raise the discourse.

I'm hurt.  I think.  Or I'm amused. 

Regardless, you are right.  The level of discourse needs to improve and I'm 
pretty sure that our aquascapes can improve along with the level of discourse.

A few months ago Bob Olesen expressed the belief that the general level of 
aquascaping among the list members has improved.  The bar has been raised.  I 
think he was right, but I also think we have a ways to go.

Diana Berberich's recent letter was great step.  In one relatively short 
letter she brought up several ideas that I haven't thought about before.   
She *did* raise the level of discourse, and if the rest of us carried through 
with some of her ideas not ony the level of discourse would be improved, but 
in all likelihood, the level of our aquascaping would be improved.

Will wrote:

 > Everyone of us has different opinions on what looks good.  We don't have
>  to agree on aesthetics, we just need to understand that this is for fun. 
>  Bottom line, I think any planted tank, American, Amano, Dutch, jungle,
>  whatever... they are all nice.  Maybe we should just ask the fish if they
>  are happy:)

I think Will's opinion reflects a common thought on the list.   I also think 
that anyone who wants to promote the art of aquascaping has to disagree.  
Planted tanks are not inherently beautiful.  It takes quite a bit of work to 
turn a planted tank into a work of art.  Turning a planted tank into a really 
fine work of art also takes talent.   Keeping fish happy in the tank has very 
little to do with it.  Even growing perfectly healthy plants has relatively 
little to do with it.

More recently Joe Hildreth wrote:

> My point in writing this is to ask for tolerance of
> other points of view and to support the non technical, artistic approach
> to growing aquatic plants.

Tolerance would be great, but I think we may be beyond that point.

The technical details of keeping a planted tank and the effort to turn a 
planted tank into a work of art are not separable.  You must be technically 
competent at growing and maintaining plants before you can use them as a 
medium of art.   That doesn't mean that someone who's interest lies in the 
art wants to spend a lot of time wallowing in those technical details.

The aquascaping artist has to transcend the technical details.  If the 
preponderance of this list can't stand that, then it truly is time to start a 
new list.

For those who's interest is primarily in aquascaping as an art, there is no 
"artistic approach to growing plants"; growing plants is an approach to art.

James Purchase wrote:

> I was the one who initiated the AGA Showcase/Contest and with the dedicated
> and patient help of a VERY small group of people, spent 18 months in
> pre-planning the first event.

James, we are indebted to you and your volunteers for your efforts.  
Personally I hope that the AGA contest will continue and that you will return 
to take it to its third year.

Personally I have not compared the results of the AGA and ADA events and I'm 
not sure that it is appropriate to do so.  I have compared the two years of 
the AGA event.  I hoped that the second year of the AGA contest would advance 
past the first year.  Individuals showed improvement between the two events, 
but I'm not sure that the general level of accomplishment improved.  I was a 
little disappointed.

I think if the AGA event has a problem it is that the contest depends too 
heavily on participation by the AGA membership and the participants in this 
list.  If my local experience is representative then these two forums 
combined probably reach less that a fifth of the "target market."

For what it's worth, one of the original questions that we hoped to answer 
with the aquascaping contest was whether there was an "American" aquascaping 
style.  I think we can probably now say that there isn't.

Arthur wrote (to James):

> From my perspective, your anti-art views that you have expressed in the 
> past are the problem.

Excuse me?  Arthur, you are relatively new to this list and you're showing 
it.   James has long been a proponent of aquascaping as art.  He was one of 
the few people among the first years' AGA contest volunteers who was even 
comfortable with the concept.  I think you made a mistake.

Finally, Arthur wrote:

> And yes, I will be starting my own list.  If anyone on this list is 
> interested in subscribing to a list dedicated to artistic issues in
> aquaria, please email me.  The list will be public.

Arthur, I'll give your list a try.  I have no idea how it will shape up, but 
I'm pretty sure that if we don't participate then it won't shape up at all.

Roger Miller