As expected, the competition reaches a higher level every year-- tanks that would have swept competion two years ago don't stand a chance now.
Overall-- what's most impressive is the rising level of excecution ability.
By that I mean the rising quality of design-materials, (big thanks to ADA concepts on that one), neatness, and photograph quality.
Basically the level of professionalism is rising.
Tanks like those from Forum members like Norbert and PJAN can be noted as good examples of this-- but also a lot of examples from Asia.
Most notable I think was the level of excellence demonstrated by the competitors from Hong Kong and Taiwan-- consistantly good, and quite excellent in several occasions.
To be honest though, I was disappointed in the level of artistic experimentation, and the level of appreciation for what experimentation there was.
Oliver Knott, of course, is the most notable person in his willingness to make leaps-- and to make leaps that have good thought behind them. My personal opinion is that there should be more following of this example if we want our art form to grow.
There also seemed to be a general closed-mindedness on innovation where the judging was concerned.
-The most notable example is in the Biotope Category where the judges made the clear statement that staying basic-aquascaping princaples was more important than anal-accuracy. The whole concept of the biotope idea is to find aesthetic virtue in being true to nature-- the theory being that nature holds intrinsic beauty. As artists, if we are to theorize that this is true, we should try to see what happens when we go full-tilt on it.
Basically, if we don't go all out on our ideas we might as well not have them. If we stop following our ideas, our art will never grow.
-The other noted example that really disappointed me was the reaction to Roland Seah (of singapore's) work. Seah is quite the unique aquascaper in his dogged persistence in excecuting his style regaurdless of what anyone else says-- I really admire him for that. Come hell or high water, he's going to stick with the ferns, anubias, moss, crypts, and hair grass. Coming from the Wet and GREEN Singapore, I can see why he would have a higher affinity for these types of plants and shapes, as I also have an affinity for them coming from a home town where there's rain forest in my backyard.
The judges just were stubbornly unwilling to see the value in this innovation and loyalty to a certain concept. And that is disappointing to me. BTW-- that paludarium Seah did was AMAZING.
Who cares if there's glare on the glass, or stains, or whatever! I'd like to see the judges try and keep a 3000 gallon paludarium with spotless glass walls! Or find a way to photograph the top and bottom together effectively! Major props to Seah on that one.
Over the contest, it was made clear-- "You can't win this contest with green stuff alone." Which is sad because as artists we should test the limits.
-Over the course of the contest there are several tanks with small innovations that should have been praised, but were ultimately put down. Some examples would be the tanks of:
Mariusz Mistak, Mitchell Lee, Rui Manuel (I believe letting stems grow to the top should be acceptable when it's part of the tank's concept), and of course others.
Every time I read the phrases, "like", "my taste", "hate", "dislike", "too much" I wanted to toss my cookies. Unfortunately, I ended up losing a lot of cookies.
The last thing that disturbed me-- no fault of the contest itself mind you-- was the general absence of the competition from the ADA contest. We've all seen the amazing photos of the top ten from that contest.
AGA is supposed to be an international contest but . . .
Of course I like Oliver Knott's altum tank, but keep in mind that it's a tank that took first in AGA but 10th in ADA. What's the deal here? Where are all the guys who competed in the ADA? Did they feel it wasn't worth it to enter the AGA contest?
Well, those were my thoughts and impressions from the contest! I want to open the floor for discussion here! Congrats to all those who participated in the contest!