Part I: That Crazy Little Thing Called Art
Traditionally there are a few things we are not supposed to discuss when we wish to keep civil company with those across the dinner table. Politics and religion aside, add art to that mix. I have been in heated arguments with people who have strong opinions about what they believe to be art. Of course the one ingredient that these arguments have in common is me, so perhaps I’m the unreasonable and argumentative one.
These “discussions” usually start innocently enough. Questions are posed, such as “Are all movies art?” with a sincere desire to find an answer. Others, like “How can Britney Spears be considered music?” or “You mean to tell me that you think a red ping pong table with a white stripe running down the center is art just because it’s hanging on a museum wall?” are meant to start something.
Several years ago now, the first question above was tossed out into the crowd by a friend of mine, looking for opinions from other members of an online movie discussion board. I joined in with the best of intentions and soon took over the conversation, spewing out long winded explanations like so much half digested Chinese food after a night of binge drinking. Unapologetically so. Then, as if on cue, other members of the board violently puked out responses like other bar patrons getting a whiff of chunder splattering on the floor. Things got ugly. Threats were made. Egos bruised. Labels of insanity passed around. So, you see? It is my fault.
Thus, it became my goal...no, my crusade to find that holy grail: a distinct, easy to understand definition for that thing we call art. I’ve been thinking a lot about our friendly little art chat over the years. As a thought problem, I had come to a pretty good idea of what I believed art to be. What follows over the course of the next several days is an essay on just that. Whether there’s really any point to writing an essay on art, this is how I feel about it right now regardless. I don’t expect my answers will satisfy every question, or are even correct. But, what the hey?! Let’s all bang our heads against a wall for a while.
Next time: The Problem Word