Monday, May 7, 2012

An Art Manifesto

Art is anything conceived (in whole or in part) to inspire an aesthetic response in people experiencing it.

Craft is anything conceived (in whole or in part) to accomplish a practical purpose.

Art and craft frequently overlap, and it's extremely rare for something to be one and not the other.

A brick is a work of craft.  A brick has structural requirements that it must fulfill.  If it does not fit well with other bricks to make a sturdy wall, then it has failed as a brick.

A brick may also be a work of art.  Many people choose to use bricks that are a certain color or have a certain texture over others for aesthetic reasons.  Any brick intentionally designed to look a certain way is to that degree a work of art.

A book is a work of art.  If any amount of creative effort went into the text of said book, or how to present it in book form, art was created.  While this book may be used as a doorstop, it was not designed to do so.

A book is also a work of craft.  After all, a book that is bound poorly, or with paper that falls apart at the slightest tug will be a failure as a book. 

A movie is art.  Film-makers employ narratives, as well as scripts, visual storytelling, music, sound design, and human acting (usually) to inspire some aesthetic response in their audience.

A video game is art.  Game-makers employ narratives, as well as scripts, visual storytelling, music, sound design, human acting (more all the time), and interactive world building to inspire some aesthetic response in their audience.

A Thomas Kinkade painting is art.  It may not be particularly adventurous, and it may have been one of a run of several thousand identical paintings churned out of a factory, but that does not change the painting's goal of inspiring an aesthetic response in its audience.

A Conceptual art exhibit is art.  If a conceptual artist places an empty canvas on an easel in the middle of an art gallery, then gives the installation he has created a title such as "How I'm Feeling At The Moment", he has created art.  It may not make sense to many viewers, and a critic may declare it a waste of everyone's time.  Nevertheless, the installation-space was organized with an aesthetic goal of some sort in mind, even if the artist is the only one who knows for sure what it was, or if that goal was simply to tick people off.

Pornography is art.  As long as any creative effort went into camera angles, stage lighting, props, casting, or a script, art was created.  Exceptions might include accidentally caught surveillance footage, or when the camera is just plopped down randomly before some stuff happens with no care as to its placement.  To be fair, that could be said to describe "Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes", which is considered an actual movie.

All art deserves first amendment protection.  Nobody can rightfully have the art that they've created forcibly destroyed, and no artist can be rightfully sent to jail for creating undesirable art.  The government cannot rightfully demand that a work of art carry a warning label.  And no legal body can rightfully debate whether or not a work of art is "obscene", and thereby undeserving of protection.  Art exists, and will continue to do so.  You have the right not to like it.  And others have the right to enjoy it.  Get used to it.

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