ANST - RE- A&S Judging

dennis grace amazing at
Thu Aug 14 19:54:16 PDT 1997

Hi all. Aquilanne here.

I said:
>> Even with a rudimentary system like that displayed in the form
>>from Atenveldt's Estrella war that Damon listed in his posting, you'll
>>notice that "complexity" and "aesthetic value" are two of the major
>>criteria--20 out of 45 possible points.

Then Stefan said:
>And thereby touched on what I see as the prime fault in this list, and
>yes, in most A&S contests. That accuracy need not be there if pretty
>and complexity are.

No no no no no no no.

>Under this system it appears that a complex, pretty candlestick holder
>made out of aluminum turned on a machine lathe could well beat a
>lopsided, drinking bowl hand carved of rough wood.

Maybe you didn't see the form; I'll repost just it's headings (with point
values) for the sake of expediency:

DOCUMENTATION--(5 Points Max)		


WORKMANSHIP--(10 Points Max)	




First, the aluminum candlestick holder isn't period; it probably wouldn't
even be allowed as an entry. The "lopsided, drinking bowl hand carved of
rough wood" probably wouldn't do well, of course, because it's lopsided,
shooting down scores in not only *complexity*, but *workmanship* and
*aesthetic quality*. That's *why* this particular form has *five* separate
criteria. The idea is to determine the level of virtuousity that an entry
displays based on a *range* of criteria. You might have an entry that is
very period and well documented but isn't very creative or aesthetically
sound and another entry that uses some non-period materials/techniques with
some justification, has only adequate documentation, but is aesthetically
appealing and obviously required a great deal of workmanship. Each entry can
come out with a total score of, say, 35 out of 45. Each has strengths and
weaknesses that balance out overall.

>To cite a less exagerated example: The simple six sided wood box with
>period oil finish vs. the fancy, 16th century box with grooved
>construction, covered with jewels and finished in poly-finish.
>The latter might be similar to a one of a kind item in a museum
>collection. The former resemble boxes made by the thousands throughout
>Europe. Which is likely to win a competition? In most SCA contests,
>the latter.

Probably, but not necessarily. Assuming the workmanship is equal, the latter
item will probably score similarly in creativity/authenticity, and will
possibly score higher in aesthetics. So? The fact that an item was common
and "made by thousands throughout Europe" certainly doesn't add to the
intrinsic worth of an item in an A&S competition; make it easier to
document, maybe, but not more valuable. That's why the "one of a kind item"
your latter example entry is based on is in a museum--it's rare. After all,
an A&S competition is just that: an *arts* and *sciences* competition. Just
because an item was commonplace in period doesn't automatically grant it the
status of "art" or "science." There were, after all, ugly, utilitarian items
scattered throughout the ages. The goal of A&S competitions and the like is
to encourage and recognize the striving for excellence, not mediocrity.

 All that aside, the relative rarity or pervasiveness of any item in period
shouldn't make any difference in its ability to earn this score or that
score. If an item is truly simple, then it more than likely required less
effort to produce than a complex item. Does this bother you? Would you have
costumers marked down for having used a sewing machine or a velvet that
wasn't silk or any fabric, for that matter, that wasn't hand-spun and woven?
Or a scriveners' art entry because the artist used a brush or pen bought at
a craft store or paper they didn't make themselves (or paper, period, since
most period scriveners' arts were done on parchment), or a bardic entry
because the musician used an instrument that wasn't made using period
methods, or...but you probably get the picture by now. 

At the risk of sounding repetitive, the "C" in SCA stands for "Creative."
The average individual in the SCA who engages in some form of re-creationist
art-form uses modern tools, materials, and/or techniques in order to
*simulate* the period art-form. Granted, as we grow and mature our skills in
re-creationist art, many of us tend to delve deeper into the authentic
materials/tools/techniques. But realistically speaking, we live in a modern
world where we don't always have time to do things periodly (how many sets
of garb can you see yourself sewing by hand?), or afford period/authentic
materials (have you priced vellum lately? or natural gems?), or the
physiological fortitude to handle the sometimes harmful practices/materials
(did you know that yellows were frequently acheived with pigments made from
orpiment, an arsenic-based mineral?).

There are just too many things to take into consideration to take offense at
a simple wooden box, with or without the period oil finish, taking second
place to a more complex wooden box, with or without a modern varnish (you
don't know what justification they have for using a modern varnish, or what
period varnish they may be simulating). Just some stuff to think about.




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