Tuesday, December 19, 2006

In the eye of the beholder

What is art?

Is it only something like this or this? Or may be even this or this or this. How about this? Is this art or just the random scribblings of a demented monkey? Does splattering paint on a canvas qualify as art? If it does, then gulls are consummate artists. With better taste too.

Can you call this art? Or this, or even this. Is the man who shits in a jar and then sells it as high art, an artist? If poo in a bottle is art, then I've got Picasso beat. Every day.

Everything up until now has been the work of man (or ape). Is art something which necessarily has to be the creation of Man?

Is yes, then what about this? Or this or this or this? True, you need a computer to really bring these images to life, but they’re just mathematical functions. Order from chaos. Can we perhaps broaden our definition to include anything that’s beautiful to look at maybe? This looks great, but few would call the scene ‘art’. They’d call the photographer an artist though. But what about the programmer who wrote to code for the Mandelbrot program? No one calls him an artist even though both of them are simply capturing the beauty of nature. How does that make any sense?

Or does it? One can argue that given the same camera and scenery, I’d end up capturing disappointing images of mis-framed peaks, but given a computer and the algorithm, any one can produce the exact same images of chaotic functions. Maybe that human spark is key?

So if art isn't necessarily just something pretty (though it must be pleasing to the eye) and everything humans produce isn't necessarily art (though human involvement is necessary), then ‘art’ must lie at the intersection of these two planes.

So what is art?

Art is beauty, which is the result of skill or talent.