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Re: Aquarium style (was American style)

Oh lordy, this got long...

On Sat, 10 Jul 1999 Thomas Barr wrote, promoting personal vision over
established style.

Different artistic styles evolve through different mechanisms, some might
be based on cultural similarities and some on market-place pressures.
There could be any number of reasons for the development of a distinct
regional style.  Does the existence of a style suppress individual
expression?  Yes and no.

The Dutch aquarium is probably the product of the Dutch competition.  
Competitions create a consistent standard.  Those who want to be
recognized in the competition become very good at meeting the standard.  
A style develops.

The growth and spread of the Japanese style seems to be driven by the
marketplace.  Amano is (presumably) financially successful with his work,
so other's copy his style in hopes of copying his success.  The result is
a regional style.

Is that bad?  Certainly the common standards in a competition could act to
suppress new styles.  Certainly financial imperitives in a market place
force artists to rein in their self-expression.

On the other hand it is true in both the east and the west that an artist
must master existing styles to gain recognition; with recognition they can
then create new and truly original work.  Neophytes train at the knee of
the master and the student's contribution is acknowledged only after he
learns the master's art.

Neophytes and students have always protested that system.  Now with more
age and experience behind me I see it as a good system.  The value of
free artistic expression is diluted by its effortless availability.

What does that mean to our competition?  We have few acknowledged masters
of the aquarium art - none in the New World.  Here we have no-one to teach
us, to reward us or to pass harsh judgement on our work.  We have no
long-established rules of competition and no constraints on our style.

I want new Masters and I want to see a new and vibrant style.  I want to
see the art step to a new plane.  That is what we can get from a
competition.  Once a style is recognized and the Master's are known our
market place will keep the art alive.

Roger Miller