Arbtirary thoughts on nearly everything from a modernist poet, structural mathematician and functional programmer.

Sunday, October 11, 2009


I've finally found a definition of art that I think I agree with... Came to me as I woke up this morning.

Art (as a verb) is a creative or transformative process undertaken primarily as an appeal to some aesthetic, in order to induce a sense of "aesthetic euphoria" in those who experience the resulting object.

An object created (or transformed) in this way (this is, with this aesthetic goal as a primary objective) is a work of art.

The broad category of all artistic processes is art-- Everything which is done primarily as an appeal to an aesthetic. Any category of process which is primarily undertaken for aesthetic appeal is an artistic discipline.

Anything which has an aesthetic appeal, but was not designed with the aesthetic appeal as the primary objective is craft.

This definition is pretty loose (yet mathematically precise; I won't apologize for who I am), but it seems to explicitly exclude "useful" objects from the category of art... This isn't entirely true. An object which is useful, but was designed with its aesthetic appeal as a primary objective is still art: Something can be both craft and art.

I also am not trying to be derogatory towards craft: many great artists are primarily craftsmen, and a lot of craft is more aesthetically appealing than a lot of art. Further, what separates a good craftsman from a great craftsman, is that a great craftsman elevates the artistic value of his creation to an equal footing with it's utility-- without sacrificing function for form.

It's also, I assume, a very modernist definition... So my poetry and my artistic ideals are 70+ years behind the times; C'est la vie.

The one thing I'm struggling with is how kitsch fits into this. I would like to say kitsch is not art, but I don't think this definition excludes it.
On the other hand, I tend to refer to kitsch as "the unart" in the same way that zombies are undead. So it makes sense that kitsch will fit the definition of art; now how does in fit the definition of non-art?

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