Thursday, April 19, 2012

Art Is Subjective...Not Really

I'm tired of living in a world where I have to pretend that everyone is an exception to the rule. Governments have developed algorithms in order to extract the greatest number of tax dollars from their citizens and insurance companies have devised ways to pay out the lowest amount of money to their policy holders. The reason they have been able to do this is because people as a whole are predictably similar. If every individual was a random, chaotic snowflake things like laws, money and civilization could not exist. There is a reason that there is an Applebee's and Walmart in every town in North America.

As our population nears 7 billion the human desire to be seen as an individual continues to permeate our collective being in spite of living our lives in the exact same way that millions of other people do on a daily basis. The conflict with our inflated sense of self worth is that we all think that we have a unique and correct perspective on every situation that we encounter. Reality check! even if this blog is 1 in a million that still means that there are potentially 7000 blogs just like mine at this exact moment (if my math is correct).  Perhaps a few of us embody a rare variation on a common theme but even those people are few and far between. In every generation there may exist a handful of exceptional people but the rest of us are just a continuous line of asses with the sole  purpose of keeping the seats of public toilets warm.

Another truth I need you accept is that most of us are idiots. Recognizing this fact does not exclude me from the group. Along with our obscured sense of specialness we also possess an inaccurate idea of our own intelligence. The tragic joke is that our brains are limited to only what they know, and you can't ever know what you don't know until you know you didn't know it.  Should we on the rare occasion ever concede that someone has greater ability in one area of expertise we will go out of our way to create a new (fake) area of expertise and elevate ourselves to the height of genius in that (fake) field.

Intelligence it would seem is comparable to vanity. Not every individual is born with the genetics, discipline or money to have a fit body but no one wants to admit that they are less attractive than the rest of the species. In the same way some people are simply not born with a capacity for understanding anything in depth but they/you/me refuse to admit to their mental inferiority. Yet, we will all watch Micheal Jordan slam dunk a basketball and marvel at his brilliance. We are quick to admit to deficiencies where athletics are concerned because our lack of ability is clearly evident. 99% of five foot 2  white guys can't dunk a basketball and because of this undeniable truth they must concede that they are inferior ballers.


Art is subjective...not really. I get it, art isn't science and therefore cannot be accurately defined to a tenth of a tenth of a decimal place. I am aware that one person cannot predict how another person is going to receive and interpret a piece of art. It is within this little pocket of ambiguity that  the vapid morons, rhythmically challenged foot tappers and childish scribblers reside. The argument is that as long as I like it then it is art but that is not necessarily true. If you/me/they like it then it can be considered entertainment. To be considered art, the work needs to be something much greater.

Art is comprised of two sections: 1) form and 2) content. Form covers the materials and skills used to create the art and the content is the portrayed/inferred meaning of the art. Work that is created without advanced skill is going to be flawed in design thus the form will be bad. Bad form can be compensated for and overcome by those of us who have intense drive and perspective. But, these few are the exception to the rule. As I referenced earlier we tend to grasp tightly to these exceptions to the rule in an attempt to elevate the crap that we listen to and look at to an undeserved level of greatness.

Let us examine the works of Taylor Swift to make a point. While Miss Swift might be a great "entertainer" she is a terrible artist. Her form: guitar playing is basic and often out of rhythm. Her singing voice is weak and often flat or off key. Her lyrical content is neither groundbreaking  nor is it well crafted (from a creative writing perspective). What remains then is uninspired drivel that has no artistic significance. I don't care if Koko the signing gorilla took up finger painting and sold a few prints at Sotheby's. 99.9% of ape artwork is crap simply because apes can rarely tell the difference between smearing their shit on a wall or painting on canvas. We might be able to infer some unintended meaning from Koko's painting or glean an ironic message from a taylor swift lyric but generally speaking what they churn out is predominantly disposable.

In all other areas of life we make judgments based upon information. We don't elect to get surgery from a doctor who looks hot in their lab coat and custom Converse shoes. Conversely, we don't rustle up a local crack head and ask him for advice on what stocks to buy.  We don't do this because we want a qualified specialist tinkering with our organs and we want a qualified specialist with a history of financial success tinkering with our money. Following this example do we have to regard every 17 year old kid from the suburbs with generic life experiences and a guitar an artist?

Why then would people be so cavalier with their choice of art? Because, most people don't really care about the art that goes into their bodies. We as a species spend hours picking out the food we eat and the cars and clothes we buy. Yet, we expect art to impress upon our eyes and ears as we casually float through the world and should it move us is the particular way that we like to be moved then we will call it art. The odd thing about our "art" is even though many of us are casual with our selection process we become fiercely defensive should someone call our taste of art into question. Why are many of us afraid to admit that we have little to no interest in artistic expression? Why is it so difficult for people to say that they simply like to party and because of this fact Radiohead rarely gets shuffled onto their Ipod? Why are we so resistant to admitting that in whole or in part our taste in art is poor? Because one time someone said that art is subjective and every no talent ass clown in the world got behind the excuse to veil their inability to discern what is meaningful and valid.