Artree - the art of designing trees

This is an old discussion about if we ought to continue using the name bonsai or not. In the past, I argued that the word Bonsai is like a language just like there are different versions of English, there are different versions of Bonsai. However, the issue keeps coming back with @ryan constantly referencing the issue of whether we need a new word or not to acknowledge the influences introduced by western practitioners to the art (most recently in the styling of a Sierra Juniper during the BSOP Rendevous), just like the name Bonsai denotes a Japanese style and the word Penjing a Chinese one. During the last stream I suggested the word Artree, an obvious combination of the words art and tree. Today I saw an equivalent version of this word in French that Patrick Blandeau (president of the Societé de Bonsai et Penjing du Québec - SBPQ) came up with independently in French: Artbre. This new word works in Spanish, Portuguese and Italian too: Artbol, Artbore, Artbero. It may work in other languages too. So I am artreest. By the way I just checked google and there is an artree magazine an arts centre, and an hotel as well as a Mexican bonsai club

Hi @rafi,
My view is that western “tree thing” appears to be going through increasing times, and in each new area, many practitioners wish to reflect their environment in the choice of material and how they style them. However, the few shows I have visited still have a strong relationship with the Japanese asthetic and will do for many years to come, with some practioners not wishing to deviate.
I get your point, that we need something new to describe what is not old, but I would suggest that instead of changing the word, the meaning of the word itself will change over time (for example the word “gay”).
I don’t think we are ready to cut the apron strings yet and replace “bonsai”, but it could help to define new styles and aesthetics as “American Bonsai”, “Canadian Bonsai”, “South African Bonsai” as a way of showing the deviation from the default model?

2 Likes

It’s Bonsai, it’s roots are in every tree we design or look after. The name should never be changed. More that it could prefix a new way. Bonsai ******. Why would you want to change the name of something that at its heart brings the design and knowledge to us all. I’m amazed. :grinning::grinning:

1 Like

I agree with @Nicknjh23. Many art-forms have distinct styles inside them; usually, they’re linguistically distinct within the family of the art form (e.g. impressionist and modernist painting, grunge and classical music, ballroom and interpretive dance, romance and historical novels…)

I think we get the exact same benefit from “American bonsai” or “western bonsai” as we do a neologism without losing what we gain from recognizing that contemporary bonsai practice is a toenail on the thousand year body of the art.

A very nice toenail, I’d like to think. But still: we grow from the toes of giants. :slight_smile:

2 Likes

Perfectly said. Exactly my thoughts. Thank you.

just to clarify, I don’t really care how it is called. Ryan was looking for a word, I gave him one. I am happy with bonsai even without any qualifier like western attached for the art and some qualifier if at all for the style. But really it doesn’t matter all that much. What does matters are people’s/bonsai societies obsession with the Japanese style.

1 Like