Monday, January 01, 2007

Aquascape Analysis #3: Amano's "Dance of the Angels"

For this week's Aquascape Analysis, I've decided to analyze Takashi Amano's aquarium "Dance of the Angels" from his book Nature Aquarium World Book 3. This is a very large aquarium (2590L or 673 Gallons!) that is designed to be viewed from both sides. I wasn't able to find a picture of the other side of the aquarium, so just understand that this is a particularly wide aquarium and has an entire other aquascape on the other side. The advantage of having such as large aquarium is you can use larger plants like Cyperus helferi and let them grow to full size. This aquascape can be imitated in a smaller aquarium though, simply by substituting larger plants like the C. helferi with smaller plants, like Blyxa japonica or Echinodorus tenellus.

First, we can see that the profile is partly obscured by the top of the photograph (or aquarium) but it has overall a sloping profile, meaning it starts lower on one side of the aquarium and slopes upwards to the opposite side. The viewer's gaze will be automatically drawn down this slope, and it also prevents a "wall of plants" effect. There is a slight "V" effect in the profile as well that helps to draw the viewer's attention towards the back of the aquarium between the C. helferi and Java Fern plants.

The focal point is somewhat hard to distinguish because of the angel fish, which obviously draw the viewer's gaze first. However, in real life, the fish wouldn't stay stationary and although they form the focal point in this photograph, the overall focal point of the aquascape is the central C. helferi plant. There are also several secondary focal points around the aquarium as well, including the C. helferi plant on the right side, the bright spot in the background, the highlighted Glossostigma elatinoides in the foreground, and of course, the fish.

Amano has cleverly placed the secondary focal points to draw the viewer's gaze around the aquarium without using obvious driftwood or rocks. If we look at the flow of this aquascape, it is largely determined by the secondary focal points. These have been purposely placed (or patiently waited for in regard to the fish!) strategically around the aquarium.

Finally, if we look at the composition of the aquascape we can see that the foreground (red) is comprised of the G. elatinoides, while the midground (yellow) is made up of two islands of C. helferi and Java fern on the right side of the aquarium. The background (green) takes up almost the entire top left corner. This composition almost pushes the viewer to the right side of the aquarium and up the G. elatinoides carpeted pathway between the gently swaying C. helferi leaves and deeper into this beautiful aquascape.

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