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Re: AGA conference report and pics

Arthur wrote:
"I have posted my report of the AGA conference on my website.  I have also
included some pics."

A VERY nice report Arthur, thank you very much for taking the time to write
and post it. And don't worry about the quality of your photos - I really got
a kick out of the one titled "Amano works fast".....lol

If I may, I'd like to address some points that you make in your report
comparing the quality of the ADA Contest and the AGA Contest. I haven't seen
the results of the ADA event and I wasn't involved with the execution of
this year's AGA contest because of my health, but I was intimately involved
with the planning which let up to the AGA holding such an event in the first
place and it appears that "the rules" we worked out over 18 months of
pre-planning are holding up pretty well.

In your report, you make the following comments:

"I think everybody would agree that the difference in quality between the
two contests was night and day.  That just means that we Americans need to
do better and raise our standards.  The mark has been set, let's meet it.
Are we hobbyist, plant-collector technocrats, or are we artists?"

As I've said, I haven't seen the results of the ADA contest. Like you (and
many others in North America) I greatly admire Amano's artistic sense, both
with his aquascaping and his photography. But I would like to point out one
very BIG difference between both of these events. If you had read the
"rules" applicable to the ADA Contest, I'm pretty sure that by entering,
hobbyists were required to assign all rights to the use of their images over
to ADA. The company is free to do with the images what they wish, with no
further reference to the originator required. In the AGA Contest, we took
great pains during our pre-planning stage, to make sure that we did NOT
infringe on entrant's rights to their images. We asked for permission to
publish them, to be sure, but made it very clear that all such publication
would include the entrant's copyright notice and any subsequent use of the
images by the entrant was at their discretion. The AGA Contest was about a
_sharing_ of ideas and images, not an attempt to build up a database of
advertising images for corporate use.

The AGA Contest was also conceived, planned and executed by hobbyists, for
hobbyists. Nobody set out to make any money on it and even though there was
an entry fee, it costs the AGA a sizeable chunk of change each year to hold
it (at least the first itteration did). The AGA doesn't have deep corporate
financial pockets, I'm sure that they count every penny that they spend to
forward the hobby. Everyone involved with the AGA Contest volunteered their
time and I can tell you that in some cases that was a VERY big investment.
Had I, Erick Olson and the other volunteers billed the AGA for the time it
took us to organize the first event, there never would have BEEN a second

As for the "art vs. plant-collector" issue, I recall that the issue was
brought up by Roger Miller during the months of pre-planning for the first
Showcase-Contest. In the end, its probably safe to say that the issue was
never resolved, at least not to the satisfaction of everyone and we decided
to just let people enter what they wished. Any "eductional" value of the
aquascapes would come from the public looking at and studying them
individually and by reading what the various judges had to say about them.
But we never set out to dictate HOW people should arrange their aquascapes -
they are, after all, each person's individual expressions and it would be
wrong for us to force any one viewpoint on everyone. If you prefer an
Oriental approach over a European styled tank, that a valid personal
decision but its obviously not the right one for everyone.

We can learn to make better aquascapes from looking at a variety of
sources - inspiration can be found in the most unlikely places. That's the

James Purchase