Baffled. This I feel every time when encounter the concept that “art” is hard to define, impossible to exactly put finger on, it’s somehow hard to talk about etc.
I looked up through definitions to be sure, and really all of the approaches are biased by the field whichever expert is coming from (rather natural, common thing). I won’t be any different in that matter. But let’s stick to criticizing others for now. The classical – etymological defines art by Latin roots of the word for “skill” and “craft”, after that there is whole family of definitions distilled from that understanding. Bit later art was defined by how much creative it supposed to be and new requirements – factors of aesthetics and engagement in “finer” things. If you consider the engagement part, to engage there has to be some communication. And this is how (with a little twist) I would draw the line between “The Art” and “The Rest”. Let me explain:
Consider for a while – the etymological definition creates new term with the meaning overlapping with other terms, right? Because where is the line between the craft and the art? I don’t really like overlaps in such basic concepts… Now the aesthetic part – if you create something beautiful and people appreciate it because it is made that way, then it is entertainment, right? Also there is problem with the design and “applied art”. I asked one of the professors of art at my uni if car could be an artwork, and his answer was “no, because cars are objects of use”. I replied “what if car was rather crappy as a car, exactly useless, but beautiful?” He couldn’t give me straightforward answer, because those overlaps and not covered areas of classical definitions. Now the communicological point of view:
What if we would define “The Art” as “a method of tackling bothering emotions, feelings, thoughts and concepts”? We would then accomplish at least few things: We would have great alternative (to scientific) method to tackle whatever a human being could encounter in life. We would root our analyses of art in this new definition and treat art as a language to describe what is hard to imagine and convey through known and conventional categories. We would have exact opposition to “empty entertainment”. Professor of art hired at my university could then explain to me that any of today known cars is definitely not an artwork.
As for epilogue: I really appreciate scientific approach, I use it whenever encounter new concept, idea or notion. I know that love can be described and explained through science, but then communicating my love through this understanding of love would definitely not help me pass my genes further in the cycle in life, right? This is what I mean by “alternative method” – to describe in best possible way sheer, almost unbearable magnitude, direction and focus of what I feel with at least some precision and most of power? I tell you – I am in serious need of art “sense”.
Take good care