Blog: How Do We Know It’s Art?

Christine Alfery

Posted on November 09 2017

Galaxy by Christine Alfery

 Featured image: Galaxy

To know something is knowledge. So how do we know something? Do we use words, numbers to know something? Words and numbers can be manipulated to suit desires and needs. So we may know something that is based on desires and needs, but that isn’t a kind of knowledge that can be valued and judged by all as a truth. How we know something, our knowledge of something needs to be based on facts.

Words need not be related to something, they can be arbitrary and based on social conventions. Facts need to be related to something, visible to all, they cannot be arbitrary. Words often are based on social conventions. If knowledge, how we know something, is based on social conventions such as words and numbers then knowledge is arbitrary.

Knowledge with this kind of foundation, words and numbers based on social conventions and desires, is only valid because it is convenient for it to be valid. To validate something in this manner makes value and truths arbitrary and variable simply said not valuable.

Knowledge with a foundation of facts that don’t change based on desires and social conventions can validate something. Facts are valuable.

So how should we validate art? How do we know a work is indeed art? Should art be validated through arbitrary words such as, I like it so it is good, or I call it art so it is art.

Where is the power behind art? In the past and indeed to this day art has been validated through aesthetics. But the aesthetic is arbitrary and personal and filled with desire. The power behind art lies in the values we place on art. Art must have value, it cannot be anything and everything.

Where is the power behind art? It is not in arbitrary words and numbers that change with desires, rather it is through facts, real facts. What are the real facts of a work of art? Is it original? Is it one of a kind? Is it unique? Does the artist's self shine through the work? Does the concept of what the artist is trying to convey shine through the work? Is the context of the work evident?

I have talked about concepts before, so I will just give a brief summary here. Concepts are created from abstractions, abstractions are floating around in the artist's mind, and when the artist relates them to something, interlinks them to something they become conceptual. Once they are conceptual they are integrated with context. Context is how we know something. How we know something can be based on facts which are real or words and numbers that can be manipulated.

The power behind art is how we value it. How we value art is based on how we know art.


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