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Thursday, August 03, 2006

Stop saying something is art

Please stop saying that something is an art, when it's not.

Note the following things which ARE art: literature, painting, photography (arguably), sculpture, theater, cinema, music, dance.

Now note that the following, which people report as art (according to a Google search, anyway) are NOT art: leadership, picking a vice-president, programming, RFID implementation, linkbaiting, bug reporting, teaching, closing a deal, counting votes, investing, stock picking, genealogy, e-mail, war, failure, or taking the right stuff to Burning Man.

There is this widespread belief that "art" means something subtle and complex, and that calling something an "art" serves to show how hard it is, versus being a "science". I think the opposite is true, and that this is a blatant disrespect for scientists. Say what you will, but science is the most complex and fruitful enterprise of man. So if there's a word that conveys the most respect and complexity, it must be "science".

If something uses technical methods to re-create values, then call it an "art". If something uses technical methods to attain any other end, then call it a "science". If something makes things prettier, call it "esthetics". But please do not treat the qualifier "art" as a praise.

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2 Comments:

At 8/03/2006 10:33 AM, Blogger Zachary Moore declaimed...

The funny thing is, I've heard people use "art" and "science" to describe the same degree of complexity.

I haven't been exposed to much art theory, but there clearly is a scientific component to that as well. Color theory, music theory, etc. The latter especially is beholden immensely to mathematics.

 
At 8/03/2006 2:36 PM, Blogger BlackSun declaimed...

I get what you are saying, Franc. I agree the term "art" is often misused. But everything can be done either elegantly or crudely. Even mundane tasks can be infused with art. Just because something is an abstraction, such as management or politics, does not automatically exclude it from artistry.

Some of the most difficult tasks humans undertake have to do with creating change and evolution on a world scale (which involves at the very least, influencing other people.) There is major art to speaking, writing, and working with groups. Two people with equally good ideas can have very different results, based solely on their different political styles.

In sum, I think creativity can be considered a primary purpose--something that gives meaning to human existence. It can and should be applied to all areas of life. Art is simply a term for effective and elegant forms of creativity which inspire admiration.

 

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