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In-depth Discussion: Judging Dutch verse Japanese Style

Discussion in 'General Aquascaping and Planted Tank Discussions' started by John N., Apr 26, 2008.

  1. John N.

    John N. Administrator Staff Member

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    Have you ever wondered how a judge can score a Dutch scape verses a Japanese Style aquascape equally?

    I mean I couldn't imagine how to decide which one is better then the other. They are incomparable!

    Dutch tanks to me seem extremely intricate and complicated. Besides the variety of plant species posing as a challenge, a Dutch tank takes into account trimming techniques, plant height, grouping, scape depth, colors and many other factors not really emphasized in a Japanese aquascape.

    Japanese Aquascapes to me are more harmony oriented, meaning the goal is to recreate nature's beauty using a balance of hardscape and plants. You'll notice in the ADA contests and AGA aquascaping competitions the winning nature scapes are often composed of "easier" slow growing, plant species. Unlike Dutch tanks where the focus is on plants species, groups and trimming, this style's challenge appears to be more with hardscape and plant arrangement.

    Can you compare the two tanks and judge them equally? :-? I know some our esteemed aquascapers in our community have judged some of competitions in their day. I hope to hear what you think on the subject too.

    -John N.
     
  2. Mellonman

    Mellonman New Member

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    Very hard indeed to compare a Dutch tank and a nature aquarium...

    I guess the judges just let their personal tastes, feelings and inclination toward a style or the other do the job ???
     
  3. Anti-Pjerrot

    Anti-Pjerrot New Member

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    There are certain things one can look at.

    Plant choice is one. Will the chosen plants suit the scape, only for the time being or for longer time. Will the plant grow too big, or is it not suited for the light needed for other plants.

    Placement is always an issue. Placing plants in straigth lines (wrong) or placing them (correctly) in groups. Is the transitions between different plants good (composition).

    Hardscape placement for NA can be similar to plant placement in Dutch. There are certain plants in Dutch that are "the hardscape" of the tank. Plants that form strong lines that leads the viewers eyes around to the focal points.

    I belive the rules is always discused before, under and after a judging.
    In Hannover, for the art of the planted aquarium aquascaping contest, the judges changed the rules for the judging 2 times (As i recall it)...
     
  4. John N.

    John N. Administrator Staff Member

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    You make a great point, and I agree with you. Everyone, including judges have a preferenace to one scaping style over another. It seems to me judging is very subjective. I guess there is no way around that besides following some of the guidelines that Anti-Pjerrot pointed out. My concern would be judge would favor nature style aquariums over Dutch tanks because that's what is trendy and is heavily produced by aquascapers from all over.

    I'm in the belief that these two styles can't really compare with each other, and shouldn't be compared as such. It's like comparing Rock music to Pop music. They have two separate judging categories. As far as I know, most aquascaping contests don't have entry classifications based on style.

    -John N.
     
  5. JDowns

    JDowns New Member

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    IMO judging the scapes is alot like a Miss America Contest. Ya there are different catagories and events. But lets be honest it all comes down to the swimsuit competition. And beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Everyone has different tastes. I've looked through some competition results, and just like the results of a Miss America Contest I rarely agree with the judges winner.

    I had to edit: Man my mind is going in my old age. And its starting with prepositions.
     
  6. George Farmer

    George Farmer Aspiring Aquascaper

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    This is where judging criteria and guidelines come into play.

    I've judged a UK aquascaping contest for PFK magazine and found guidelines helpful. I borrowed heavily from the AGA judging criteria.

    2007 AGA Aquascaping Contest

    I tried to analyse each aquascape with an open-mind, but even then, of course, we are all human and have personal preferences. This is why a panel of judges is important, to make it fairer.
     
  7. Mellonman

    Mellonman New Member

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    I would have thought so too (and that's certainly true to a certain extent)...

    ... but I also noticed in last year's contests (ADA and our Fench CAPA contest) that judges that were supposed to favour nature style (asian/japanese judges, or even Takashi Amano himself) gave high notes to more Dutch-oriented layouts...
    Maybe because they are not used to this kind of scapes, so they look original and new to them ?
     
  8. John N.

    John N. Administrator Staff Member

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    I agree a panel is good to balance out favoritism/biases.I found it quite interesting though that Mellonman stated Amano and the other asian judges favored the styles other than Japanese scapes when they judged the French CAPA contest.

    Since we're talking about judging and this next question sort of relates to the topic at hand...Besides the judging guidelines, how much does photo quality come into play when analyzing a scape? Is that taken into consideration among the list of guidelines (plant health, composition, etc). Most tanks always look better in person, and not all great aquascapers are great photographers.

    -John N.
     

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