February 14, 2012 10:23 AM   Subscribe

I should absolutely love this, but for some reason it leaves me cold. I really have no idea why, but there's something about these that just doesn't gel for me. I wouldn't normally comment just to say that I don't like something, but I'm actually curious as to whether anyone else is having the same experience and has insight into why these aren't as blowing me away as much as I feel like they should be doing.
posted by Scientist at 10:33 AM on February 14, 2012 [3 favorites]

Link to full gallery.

This is fucking badass. Great find.
posted by Think_Long at 10:34 AM on February 14, 2012 [1 favorite]

Some of them are obviously built on bonsai trees, but some don't look like there's any tree involved - just a cute, miniature, fanciful house underneath glass. Would those ones have been built around a dead bonsai or something?
posted by LN at 10:37 AM on February 14, 2012

I should absolutely love this, but for some reason it leaves me cold. I really have no idea why

Hmmm. This is exactly how I feel. No insight into it as yet, though. C'mon someone, explain ourselves to us! You can be a guru in the bonsai garden. A tiny adorable guru.
posted by howfar at 10:50 AM on February 14, 2012 [1 favorite]

That is pretty cool!
My wife "got" me a bonsai for an anniversary. I was supposed to pick out the one I wanted.
Many years later, it still has not been chosen.
It is debatable whether the lack of bonsai is due to my procrastination or to her leeriness about having, in our house, a tiny tree under which a tiny car is sitting up on tiny blocks.

I think I may have to go take a bonsai class soon.
posted by Seamus at 10:54 AM on February 14, 2012

OMFG. I lerve this. I always wonder what to think of bansai, as the whole concept of taking a tree and stunting its growth just seems a bit mean-spirited toward the tree, but this is some brilliant art. The Asian symbolism and philosophy of bansai is beautiful as well, character coming from age and weathering the same as we should respect it in a human elder, and the idea of the tree as being rooted in the earth, reaching for the heavens, and existing somewhere in-between.
posted by Shane at 11:07 AM on February 14, 2012

" should absolutely love this, but for some reason it leaves me cold."

I kept linking and looking and feel the same way. It has all the elements I really like but there's no spark in it for me. The only one that nudges me at all is the robot house and, sadly, that's not really my thing.
posted by Anitanola at 11:09 AM on February 14, 2012

A few of these I adore, like the one in the first link.

Some of them I find faintly horrifying, especially the one with the windmills sticking out everywhere. I think this is because I'm still trying to look at them as bonsai trees, and they make me want to scream, "No! Too much! Too much! Prune! Prune! PRUUUUNE!"
posted by infinitywaltz at 11:52 AM on February 14, 2012

I thought these were amazing. I thought there was a little Miyazaki Hayao in there, and also reminded me a little of that flash game Samarost they had on the blue a while back.

But mostly, I just hope he keeps these in safe place, in the off chance that John Kreese and Terry Silver come rampaging through his shop.
posted by Metro Gnome at 11:57 AM on February 14, 2012

You cannot improve a tree by sticking stuff to it.
posted by pracowity at 12:10 PM on February 14, 2012

These don't leave me cold. They're really neat. Love miniatures. Love, love, love.
posted by Trochanter at 12:20 PM on February 14, 2012

As a miniature sculpture it's great, but as a bonsai piece I think it's a bit so-so. Probably clashes because bonsai has a minimalist aesthetic, and these have a sprawling Richard Scarry sense to them.
posted by pickingoutathermos at 12:45 PM on February 14, 2012 [3 favorites]

I think where it falls short for me is that for the most part the architecture isn't organic enough. Some of the stairs and landings follow the lines of the tree, but otherwise, we have steeples and rooflines that really don't reflect the sort of collaboration with nature that you find in the best real tree houses.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 12:46 PM on February 14, 2012

I think the negative reactions to it are stemming from (at least I think this is what mine .. is stemming from) a sense of a bonsai being enough in and of itself. Like so many things in life, we gotta complicate, add-to and make more. Less truly is more sometimes. Sorry to end on such a trite thought ~ but there you have it.
posted by cdalight at 12:48 PM on February 14, 2012

I'd like this more if they were bonzai trees that had humble little half-assed treehouses of the sort that 12 year olds (used to?) build, not elaborate monstrosities that overpower the tree.
posted by the bricabrac man at 12:59 PM on February 14, 2012 [2 favorites]

Very cool. Now why can't someone build something ike this in real life?
posted by Vindaloo at 1:08 PM on February 14, 2012

pickingoutathermos, cdalight, and bricabrac have nailed a point. Add a sonnet to a haiku and it's not a haiku anymore. Still, the two elements play aganst each other interestingly, although you could argue that the end product is really more miniature treehouses than bansai.
posted by Shane at 1:29 PM on February 14, 2012

Yes! I was expecting more bonsai, less treehouse. I was expecting something charming and whimsical, something that maybe played on the idea of treehouses as simple places for play and escape and imagination and the concept of bonsai as sort of fostering the same things. I wasn't expecting tiny tree-mansions, magnificent as they are. Maybe the problem is my expectations? Though I still think I would have preferred the simpler execution.
posted by Scientist at 2:20 PM on February 14, 2012

I'd like to see this done where the tree was the main focus and there was just a simple tree house built in it, like kids would have. In fact, maybe I'll just do that myself!

That said, these pieces are amazingly crafted and I'd love to see them up close! That Michelin Man hotel is insane!
posted by orme at 2:49 PM on February 14, 2012

As a child, I dreamed of living in places like this.
posted by SPrintF at 4:17 PM on February 14, 2012

I was expecting something along the lines of Chinese Penjing stuff, more like miniature landscapes. That style will often have little pagodas or houses or figurines to help strike a scene and show the intended scale. I first thought that style was kind of kitschy compared to the austere Japanese trees, but you know it can be nice, as long as the trees lead the composition. This stuff was way overdone to me.
posted by BinGregory at 4:18 PM on February 14, 2012

Count me as one of the folks who was left cold. I wanted little hobbity Japanese structures nestled in bonsai, kind of like this meets this.

On preview: yes, overdone is the word.
posted by Specklet at 4:23 PM on February 14, 2012

Yes, it's overdone. I am not an artist, but to me, the overdoneness seems to be kind of the whole point. I'm just disappointed the pics don't show *more* detail. Nice find.
posted by zardoz at 7:08 PM on February 14, 2012

I love the idea, but the structures are too much. Way to overwhelming to be in the spirit of bonsai. If you take away the structure and just look at the tree, it's a terrible specimen of bonsai. That said, I really love the idea, it's the execution that hurts. Now that I've seen them, I'll be imagining little structures under bonsai trees.
posted by BlueHorse at 7:30 PM on February 14, 2012

Just my cup of amazing. Thanks!
posted by nickyskye at 8:18 PM on February 14, 2012

The Hotel Michelin made me think of Antoni Gaudi and wonder why we don't have any wonderful, imaginative architecture these days. Any 'interesting' building seems to be all show and little function, certainly not the gorgeous humane spaces that Gaudi made.
posted by asok at 8:08 AM on February 15, 2012

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