Monday, January 08, 2007
Aquascape Analysis #4: Filipe Alves Oliveira's "Across the River"
This week's Aquascape Analysis is not an Amano aquarium, but that of Filipe Oliveira. This aquarium, "Across the River" won him the 2006 International Aquascaping Contest promoted by the Aquatic Gardner's Association, so it's no small surprise that it's being featured here!
First, it's easily apparent that the profile of this aquarium is that of a mound, or an inverted "V." This creates attention near the center of the aquarium, which is desired for obvious reasons; in this case it is to bring the viewer in towards the focal point and the mysterious darkness right in the middle of the aquarium.
The focal point of this aquarium is the Ludwigia inclinata var. verticillata "Cuba" and more specifically, a section to the right of the center (circled in red). This section is un-obscured by driftwood and is the brightest section in the photograph. Note the use of hardscape to "frame" the focal point to eliminate the creation of too many or too large a focal point. There is also a secondary focal point to the left in the Ludwigia "Cuba" as well. The cove in the middle of the aquarium isn't really a focal point because of its darkness, but it is certainly a point of interest and the dark, somewhat obscured "river" of sand lined by rocks creates incredible amounts of mystery and hence, fascinates the viewer.
The flow of this aquascape is much different from a traditional Amano aquarium in that it does not radiate out from the focal point, but instead brings the viewer's gaze across the Ludwigia "Cuba" and down the driftwood into the Blyxa japonica and also down into the mysterious cove created in the center of the aquarium. This aquascape shows a viable alternative to Amano's radiating flow direction, although the flow here is much more subtle as the aquascape is much less "busy" than Amano's, requiring a much more gentle guidance of the viewer's gaze. Too harsh a flow and the aquascape may look manufactured.
Finally, we can see the foreground (green), midground (blue), and background (yellow). The G. elatinoides makes up the entire foreground, keeping it simple and not drawing attention. The midground consists primarily of the four large Blyxa japonica plants. These plants also serve to block the viewer's gaze of the base of the Ludwigia "Cuba" which like most stem plants, is often less attractive near the base. The Ludiwigia "Cuba" makes up the entire background, bursting with color and texture.
Overall, the major takeaways from this aquascape are that with a simpler scape, you don't need as much influence on the flow to get the viewer's gaze around the aquarium and that major points of interest need not be the focal point. Here, the cove is intensely interesting to the viewer as it is dark and hard to see where it leads, but it is also sheltered, appealing to our primitive instincts. The textures used in this aquascape also complement each other; the long deep green diagonal leaves of the Blyxa japonica contrast nicely with the bright, reddish whorls of the Ludwigia "Cuba." It's not hard to see that Filipe Oliveira has created a masterpiece out of just three types of plants and a very intriguing cove.
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