slashdot tackles art
Post #573 • July 6, 2005, 7:28 AM • 93 Comments
What the heck is art anyway, at least as most people understand it? What do people mean when they say 'art'? A straw poll showed a fair degree of consensus--art is craft plus a special degree of inspiration. This pretty much explains immediately why only art students and art critics at a certain sort of paper favor conceptual art. Conceptual art, of course, often lacks a craft component as people usually understand the term.
...thereby opening the What Is Art can of worms at Slashdot.
Mozart considered composition a craft. So did Bach, who regularly turned out a new cantata most weeks for his job at the Thomaskirche in Leipzig. The notion that artists have special access to some emotional content not available to ordinary craftsmen is a nineteenth-century idea. But everyone agrees that both Mozart and Bach had access to some pretty unusual stuff- we hear it and respond to it. The content of programming is perhaps too instrumental (i.e., interesting for its usefulness more than its inherent qualities) to rise to the level of art. But this may be changing with the state-of-the-art games. In a hundred years, people may look back at today's game developers as the inventors of a new art form!
I already know where this question leads - into a black hole. It's a philosophical inquiry that is interesting but not useful. You're never going to be able to create clear boundaries around a class of objects that, strictly speaking, have no function. Even if you could, you still run directly into the good art/bad art problem, leaving you on no more certain ground than if you skipped the first problem entirely. My own definition is biased by design: art is that which is designed to achieve aesthetic quality above all other concerns, except for things that aren't, but they don't matter as much.
The boundaries around art have to be like the US-Mexico border: present, but highly permeable.