We live in a world where everything can be art, hence what is good and what form it takes is just a matter of perception, and the game for an artist is about convincing others that his work is good. Often used tactics are aesthetic values, technical capability, conceptual ideas, spectacle and many other novel ideas. Ultimately though what tactic one choses to employ in creating ones work is irrelevant compared to meeting those who can validate your claim. The gatekeepers of good art don’t do a terrible job in maintaining a standard, certainly better than what the majority could do. Art might be one of the few forms where what is good is not determined by the majority. Which lets be honest it is a good thing, because the majority would not know what is good if they were hit over the head with it. If the majority were to decide what should be art, galleries would be littered with baby pictures, celebrities, super heroes, sunsets and cute animals. You might feel a bit insulted just about now, you may say to your self my taste is excellent. Trust me, if you are the majority, like me, it is trash, because our taste is based in passive consumption and immediate gratification. Do you feel better now that I included my self in to the pit that is the majority, together as brothers in ignorance? Anyway….Take the music that you listen to, it makes pleasing sounds that confirm your pre-existing perceptions, this however does not equal good, what it actually is, is a pacifier. Imagine your self as a little babe screaming, and your mama shoves a pacifier down your throat, which reminds you of sucking her tities and therefore you are happy. The pacifier at a stretch is a necessity for a time, but when constantly used becomes detrimental to the development of the child, imagine how you would perceive a big hulking man with a pacifier? I’m using the American word hear, but the English one is not bad either, dummy, especially when considered in conjunction with one and other, the Dummy Pacifier. This then is a picture of you and I, the majority, our evolution as a species hampered by immediate gratification in the form of a metaphorical pacifier that dumbs us down.
Side note, interestingly enough, if you are reading this text, you are most likely not the majority and if you are, you’re either a smal segment of the majority who is happy to go with the flow, because it is easier or you are like me writing a text just like this one either now in the same moment, in the past or the future.
In an ideal world it is the majority who should determine what is good art, and not stuffy intellectuals, hipster curators or the other end of the spectrum, that mysterious group of people who drive cars that can sustain a smal country for an hour. However we the majority have lobotomised our minds, because we have bought in to the idea of short-term gain and immediate fixes. In conclusion, it is our responsibility to humanity and its future, to challenge our selves and experience things we do not know we will like or not, so no more pictures of dolphins, sunsets, superheroes, celebrities and pussy cats for you, Doctors orders. In essence we must count ourselves lucky that there are intellectuals out their who can tell us what is good art, God forbid the day when good art is determined by the market or satisfying political agendas.
Now that is out of the way, let’s deal with another tiny problem, which is the scale used to determine what is good or bad, yes you guessed it, value in the form of money, after al we live in a world based on the principal that higher the value higher the worth. The problem is that such a scale is ultimately flawed, because:
Art is like a human life, one can not apply a value to it. Why can one not put a price on a human’s life you ask? Besides it being ethically wrong, simple, it’s potential is unpredictable. Humans can not be calcified in to pawns or kings, life is not a game, it is many games layered on top of each other, all having different and contradictory effects that can only be determined by perspective, and even then that will never be static since the world is forever changing. Only in a static world can something have value, but such a world would be a fallacy, as it would be disconnected from the real.
Art cannot be owned, even by the creator him self. It can be in your house or your collection, but you do not own it. It does not matter if you say it is mine, it does not matter if you put it under your control, it does not matter that you are the only one to have seen it or that you are the one who destroyed it. The only thing that you can achieve by trying to own art, is to demonstrate your standing and power within the framework you live in.
If we cannot use value to determine what is good, than what? How about this, what your basic instinct tells you to dislike is in fact not bad but good. It is good because it is more demanding of you because if you don’t immediately like it, you most work to understand it, and the work you must do, will reward you in that it pushes you in new directions, you expand and grow further. In short like what you don’t like.
And that is how you shall know good art from bad, not by it’s value, technical skill or it’s stamp of approval, but in it’s ability to challenge and stimulate you.
Such art will help further the evolution of our species all other forms of art will dumb us down until we are nothing more than a living lump of flesh.