Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Thoughts on Quality 2

A while ago I defined art as having to serve a greater purpose beyond decorative. To be art, a creation has to inspire some thought about a deep issue, such as Time, God, Love, and so on. This distinction is one that separates art from craft, not good art from bad art.

For instance, a finger painting about God qualifies as art under my definition, as surely as a Rembrandt does. Only, one may be naive, poorly executed, and of poor quality, while the other is masterfully executed and widely acknowledged as successful.

Someone can work for ten years carving beautiful flowers onto a wall, and it may be impressive. If a viewer gets nothing out of seeing the wall other than joy at seeing the flowers or awe at the work involved, the piece is impressive craftwork, but not art. Only if something about the work inspires a viewer onto thoughts about the essence of life, beauty, time, or something else is it art.

That was a summary of my original article.

Even I can see that this distinction is highly subjective. The judgment of whether the finger painting "succeeds" in tackling a deeper issue as well as the Rembrandt does is a subjective judgment. So is the judgment as to whether the beautiful carvings are art or craft. After all, a beautiful object by its very nature says something about beauty, doesn't it?

Quality is not a result of deliberate effort; you can work on something for a long time and still produce something devoid of any real meaning.

Quality is not a result of complexity; A finger painter's view of God may be simpler than an experienced adult's, but so too could the adult's be relatively straightforward.

Neither quality nor art exist as a result of their having inspired deep thoughts. You can get deep thoughts looking at a sunset, but I don't consider the sunset art (at least, not human art). Nor do I consider a garbage song to be art, even if a certain lyric catches you at just the right time to inspire self-reflection.

Guilty pleasures are just that; sugar to the body or the soul. Fun for the sake of fun but without meaning or growth is soon shrugged off, leaving your body and soul more depleted than when you started. Fun can't be the object, only the means.

I'm going to try thinking on the page, now, and come back to this tomorrow. Quality may be the element of serving it's purpose well. Value may be the element of serving an artistic purpose. Art then must have some value, but can be of high or low quality. Craft may be of high quality, but of little value. Something of high value and high quality would be both artistic and well-fashioned.

A game that is fun, but inspires no meaning, may be a quality game, but have no value. A valueless game may still give way to a quality experience. The game was probably interchangeable with any other in that case. Games that have value can move us. Low quality games of value probably won't. High quality games of value very well might.

A high quality/low value game: A gold and silver Tic Tac Toe board. A high quality/high value game: A Go board. A low quality/low value game: Tic Tac Toe made with plastic components that don't fit. A low quality/high value game: ASL.


Something about this doesn't sound right. I'll try again tomorrow.


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