Today I want to put an age-old question to rest. What is art and what is not? What's the difference? In art world, there is actually a consensus that was reached in the second half of 20th century.

First, the audience has no merit to decide what's art and what's not, as art has inherent characteristics. So whether a piece is art or not is left for the artist to decide.

But the artist too cannot just call anything they make art. There is just one criterion — if only the art piece itself is enough to justify its making, and the artist sees it as the only award they need for making it, it's art. Otherwise, it's not.

"But wait, that's not entirely correct, this is incomplete", you say. Well, it's in fact complete, but because our society progressed way faster than our languages, we're having a hard time to describe novel complex things with words. Language can't keep up with rising complexity.

We use "horseless carriages" instead of "cars" when we describe anything complex enough. The good explanation of how language works and why do we act like this is outlined beautifully in Benjamin Bratton's "The New Normal". A small book of forty-something pages, but I never spent that much time on every page in my life. The best book investment for me after "The Code Complete".

  • 3
    This definition of art is kinda sad when you think about it… basically means perfectionists will never make art, if I understood it correctly:

    Since an art piece will never be perfect, it will never be enough to justify its making, it will be experience for the next artpiece, and rather than an award it will be a failure in the eyes of a perfectionist.
  • 1
    @piratefox Piet Mondrian was a perfectionist. Months after months he moved straight lines around until it’s perfect.

    If you have talent and you spend very long time working on your piece, you’ll achieve what you want (because you’re talented), no matter how high is the bar.

    When you give it, your piece shines so brightly it’s visible from another galaxies. People will bow to its sheer complexity and beauty, as the sense of beauty is objective and it predates dinosaurs.

    Different people, no matter their background and knowledge, would contemplate it and won’t look away even if they don’t understand what’s so special about what they look at.

    This is how art is born. Around it, people feel the presence, the magnificence and glory as it speaks to their inner unconscious mechanisms that are as powerful as the ancient signal that makes your heart beat.
  • 1
    Let's say we agree that the concept of the art is entirely down to artist, like you claim. Why should then mater what anyone calls it? Why should there even exist the need to have a word for it? The answer is simple: we need a word so we can communicate the deeper concept about this creation. But if artist is the only one who determines the deeper concept about something they create, then no mater the word, other people will never be able to understand what it means.

    In other words, fuck it. Language has to be pragmatic, and the pragmatic meaning of a words depends on what most people understand when they hear that word, not on what someone decides to call something in their own mind.
  • 0
    @hitko cynicism is not an option
  • 1
    Years ago I read someone attempting to describe it as 'art is something that attempts to evoke emotion in its intended admirer'. And after plenty of thought I've choosen to adhere to that definition.

    As in any philosophical discussion definitions are extremely important for fruitful discourse. So I will attempt to explain the meaning I lay in the word "emotion" here.

    An emotion in this sense is part the obvious ones disgust/joy/anger/nostalgia etc... But it should also include the more abstract emotion humans get from admiring "beauty" like pleasing/uppsetting patterns. While I've never personally been a fan of abstract art this definition of emotion allows us to include those artist. Consciously or unconsciously their artwork with angles/colors/surfaces affect our mind at very basic levels.

    pt 1/2
  • 1
    In opposite of your definition this emotion driven definition puts the definition of art in the eyes of the beholder (And ro some extent that there need to be created with intent I guess). But the admirer includes the artist, so it is in practice enough that the artwork can invoke a feeling in the artist themself to count as an artwork

    pt 2/2
  • 0
    @G4nin0 art is art even without an observer.
  • 0
    How useless.

    It explains both modern art, and modern art as money laundering.

    It also says that a business mass-producing the same garbage can call that garbage “art” as the business can justify its manufacture.

    What is an artist, after all, but someone who produces art? And if art is anything an artist considers worth making… everyone is an artist and everything is art. And when everyone’s an artist, no one will be.
  • 0
    @Root doesn’t explain business because money is the end goal
  • 1
    @Root on a serious note, try making an art piece yourself. You're a smart person that been through a lot, you got all the prerequisites.

    Start slow and insecure, thinking about reception, but continue working past that, you can even work just when you're in the mood, and it doesn't matter if it takes years.

    One by one, thoughts about reception will shatter, and you'll only care about the piece itself and finding ways to express your vision.

    When you're done, you'll feel that what you did is beautiful, because it was _you_. It wouldn't matter if anyone sees it or not. It's now your personal, hidden gem that is perfect.

    Now, it's art.
  • 0
    @kiki I completely agree. I just think the definition of art needs to change.
  • 0

    "Art is art even with out an observer" is hardly a valid reasoning without expanding on it. It is just a statement without reasoning. If you genuinly want to discuss Im genuinly curious about hearing more about your view. I love this stuff, It's through discussions like this worldviews and ideologies are made.

    Can you expand upon why a creation has value(is art) even if no-one is watching it? Do I understand what you answered above you believe actual value lies only in the perfection of creation according to it's creators views. As it sounds like from what you say something can't be art if the artist isn't pleased with it or does it for money. Which for example disqualifies most works of masters and perfectionists but also paid proffesionals like Michelangelo, Da Vinci and Picasso.
  • 0
    @G4nin0 I’ll try to invent a metaphor.

    Imagine you developed a programming language, but never developed a compiler. You only have a paper that explains the language.

    Is it a programming language then?

    Well, yes! It was the case with ALGOL-68 (https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/...).

    It’s a classical example that is traced back to that popular eastern philosophy riddle about a tree falling in a forest with no one to hear it falling. The riddle insists that the tree falling wouldn’t make any sound just because there is no one to hear it.

    This smells making an observer something special, introducing another variable that otherwise is not needed. A classic example of treating humans as if god designed the world just for them.

    We know there’ll still be a sound. Observer is not something special. Physical processes don’t care about observers.

    In art, it’s something similar. The beauty is still beauty even if there’s no one to contemplate it.
  • 0
    @G4nin0 expressing your own vision without thinking about external validation is a process that unlocks the vision itself. This is why it’s so special, it leaves traces in the piece itself, and it makes all the difference. Dishonesty absolutely cannot work here.

    If we leave an observer out, then yes, theoretically we can generate art, but to do that, we should either emulate intricate processes that occur inside of artist’s brain, we don’t have simulate the consciousness itself tho, as these processes are on higher level of abstraction. The trick is artists can’t quite explain them, it means the processes are deeper and more ancient than consciousness itself.

    Also, we have to simulate lack of external validation on that system. I have no fucking idea how to do it.
  • 0
    @G4nin0 Or, if we build a sophisticated enough neural network that’ll _want_ to make art, and we never tell it about the concept of observers, yes, it will make true art.

    You don’t have to be a human to make art. Art is not inherently centered around humans.
  • 0
    the definition of art is just as subjective as art itself.

    you can call something art for the expression of emotion, for a critique it makes, for the technical prowess involved, for a reaction it evokes. some art manifests more than one of those aspects.

    for me, art is just what we consider art. it's something fundamentally human, that resonates with us deeply, and for that we assign that title.
  • 0
    @kiki i think you're trying to apply metaphysical attributes to a very high concept and failing, for a good reason.

    how can art exist without an audience? art doesn't exist in a vacuum, it's made to be experienced. it's like imagining a human outside of society, that kind of stuff doesn't happen.
  • 0
    @darksideofyay I’ll give you just one example.

    James Hampton spent 15-something years building his throne out of rubbish he collected. He was all alone, never showing the piece and never intending to. The throne was discovered when he died, yielding astonishing insight to the art scene. If you want to play subjective, then the throne is definitely art because of a consensus, just like any art pieces.

    The throne didn’t became art just when it was discovered. It was art from the very beginning. Thus, observer can be left out and nothing would change.

    I recommend Atrocity Guide’s video on James Hampton.
  • 0
    @darksideofyay Now, to subjectivity. Beauty is found out to be objective after all. Beautiful art piece is inherently beautiful, and we don’t need a consensus. Again, the language can’t keep up, so there is intrinsic beauty (objective) and perceived beauty (subjective). The latter you can pronounce in words, the former cannot be described because the barrier between your neocortex (e.g. you) is literally there physically, and ancient sense of beauty that predates humans is obviously deeper, it lays under the neocortex.

    Just like you can’t describe with words how the heart beat signal does feel, you can’t describe objective beauty. But it’s still there. It found out to influence deeper, more fundamental things like the feeling of pain, mental health, that sort of thing. Objectively beautiful piece has the same influence on all humans without exceptions.

    I recommend the Kurzegsagt video on beauty.
  • 0
    @darksideofyay also, I feel like you’re trying to say that only because something is metaphysical, it’s speculative or useless. This is not the case, otherwise you won’t have a chance to know what this word means.

    Secondly, I never invented anything I said here. I merely brought what we know about art.

    I’m happy to talk about it, but I’m sad to see sort of attacks like this. They are understandable though, because changing worldview takes an ungodly amount of energy, and the brain is trying to save as much energy as possible, replying to an information that requires such changes with aggression.
  • 0
    @kiki ? when was i aggressive? i think you read in a tone i didn't use
  • 0
Add Comment