I guess the commentary has settled so here's just some summary and my thoughts about what qualifies "art."
As expected, many of us are relativists. "Beauty is in the eye of the beholder" for example is a relativist statement and we seem to figure the sense of what's art and not art. Here's `Trapiki
saying the same thing:
"It all boils down to what is pleasing to your eye. Personal preference plays a lot in that definition. Someone might look at a picture of a lamppost and think, 'It's just a lamppost' others will look at it and see something completely different." - `Trapiki
And then we have the generalized definition:
"But I am not that sure about that definition. Maybe art is like almost anything in life, dependant on the perspective and the point of view." - ~Beykex
"Art is whatever people want it to be. If someone says its art then it is for the most part..
But i would just say anything that people have created can be classified as art if they want it to be. ^_^" - ~tehmantra
And then we have the ULTRA relativist answer:
"Ask a trillion people, and you'll get a trillion different answers!" - ~soloact-the-bard
Not so sure if some trillion people will give different answers. In the general understanding of art, MOST claim aesthetic value over functionality. When you look at your window, you don't necessary see "art" right away, you see function. A window is a window. Then of course there are some of us who believe even that window is a work of craftsmanship, therefore, art. However, and while I don't mean to generalize any of us, we seem to view this window as something that separates between inside and outside. And some of us may argue: this isn't art, it's just a window, a mass produced window.
Now, I disagree with the general consensus regarding this. ~IzzuThug
seems to have a good idea here on the matter.
"Just about anything in the world can be considered an art. Is a mona lisa that looks like crap but was created by shooting a paintball gun at a wall considered art? Just everything else in the world that is trying to be sold to the consumer the consumer has to like it or have some connection to it to appeal to it.
Considering whether something is art is not what we do when we judge, we are just saying whether or not we like it and if we think it's hard or not to reproduce or make."
Though what's really interesting is what we value as art and what we don't. Even, to my surprise, some people who designed the things around you, don't really see what they've designed as "art." They much rather see it as an invention. In other words, even with the appeal, sometimes it's just done to create the appeal and not necessary the sort of "art" we may see as "art." In a more vague sense, I can agree that this can be art, but I'm generally not going through the supermarket thinking, "These are so well designed." No, I'm thinking, "Well I want that jar of pickles."
This makes me go "hmm." And as much as I'd love to see everything with a different perspective, I don't seem to be able to override my unconsciousness from telling me that I'm just passing through the supermarket. Artists of course can turn on their "artist switch" and think about the local supermarket as being a full of design, technology, and functionality, though who else thinks like us? And this is where we hit a sort of wall. Because by definition, we can go as relativist as we want, and we'll end up with perhaps "a trillion answers" but we DO in fact have a dividing line that we seem to be terrible at describing.
In my view, what becomes art isn't really how we see it as art: I think it's honestly about display. Dadaists have done a great job with this. You may know Duchamp, famous for "The Fountain." I've seen this in person in the National Art Center in Roppongi, Tokyo during their show, "Living in the material world "things" in art of the 20th century and beyond". And you can't help but hear people just ask themselves, "What the hell is this?" The pamphlet for this exhibit (intended for kids I assumed) had a bit of bold outlining of the exhibit: "Is this art? Or is this not?" And surely, I don't know. But we can conclude in a very objective manner that what's very poetic about it is how it begs us to give an answer about what's art and what's not. Yes, it's a urinal laying on its side with a signature. But given the fact that it's in an art gallery, we're forced to think that it's some kind of art. We don't know or care if the answer is "art" or "not art" but to us it's this vagueness that dictates aesthetics and value. In the case of Duchamp, I think it was more "value" than art.
Now, the other side to the debate about the qualification of art lies heavily on our way of seeing things. The comments I've read so far had significantly to do with perspective and the way we perceive an object given our understanding. However, this definition can extend to further things such as environment. In other words what surrounds us makes art as well. Now, again, back to Duchamp and his Fountain. His work, in an art gallery, is displayed with proper lighting to extend the form of the object and so on. This gallery was very dimly lit in fact, the focus was obviously the artwork itself which gave me the sense that what I'm seeing is important in some way. Given that I was in an art gallery, my brain subconsciously fixed itself to the fact that I was here, intending to see art.
In other words, what may or may not define art also relies heavily on the environment. As an example, there was an marketing survey that was conducted on how presentation affects our view of quality. (Source: Snopes) In this experiment, a professional top violinist, Joshua Bell played 6 Bach pieces for 45 minutes in a metro station. He played, some people listened, most people passed, and he basically collected $32 from 20 people and 6 people stopped to listen for a while. That's very interesting. In other words, our perception is constantly being fooled by an external, surrounding entity. We are choosing what's art and what's not art through the display of things.
Allow me to conclude here.
First of all, what qualifies as art, while we're very relativist about this matter, I at the same time believe that there's a pretty distinct line we draw. To me, what divides art is it's presentation, display, and it's overall intent. I am subconsciously being controlled and manipulated by the environment (and this gets into a lot of other things too!) but either way, our view of things change so rapidly that at one point we may see a lamp post as art but at other times we may not.
In one way, what we end up is still a messy goop of reality and our ideal. Though this always happens anyway.
I've recently had a discussion about this matter too along with a friend of mine. To him, some of the things I've created isn't art. You may have noticed that some of the items in my gallery seem rather computed than done manually. He believes that they're too computer generated and given that, I'm really not controlling it as most of the process is "automated." This is partially true. But what I disagree on is the fact that it's not the process that matters, it's the final product that gets seen. And it's also the fact that I have something ideal in my mind and I follow those ideals to create something that in the end is pleasing to the eye. Given that, even with a partially automated system of creating art, we end up with pleasure. And maybe, by following a computer program doing art for you isn't 100% original, but that doesn't matter too much I think. I see that more as, "Who cares. People only see the final product." If they like it, they like it. If they think it's art, it's art. If they want to see more, I'll give them more. And while I'm probably simplifying the issue here, maybe it's better to think like that instead of getting down to the nitty gritty of what's art and what's not art.
Am I a relativist saying that? Sort of. But I still think I've defined some boundaries of art and not. And this is totally up to you on agreeing or disagreeing the issue.
It's an important issue about defining art since it defines us. It defines our culture, it defines our behavior, it defines everything we see.
Any opinions? Comment below. And thanks for all your commentary. I tried to get most of them in, but some of them got repetitive. So I ended up leaving those out. Sorry if you commented and expected some response from me and thanks for taking part in the discussion. It was very interesting hearing your thoughts.