Where is the line between art and not art?

(Justin Brown) #1

I was thinking about this today. What’s the difference between art and not art? What makes something artistic and something else functional? Can something be functional and artistic at the same time?

Let me know how you distinguish between art and not art. If you can add pictures of something you can see in front of you, that would be fascinating as well!

(Bill Ames) #2

It will depend on what you see. This image is of a Time of Flight Mass Spectrometer I helped developed and also qualified the software that runs it and selected the PC computer that it uses. To others who have no clue what it is it may well appear as some work of art. There is nothing in the image that is recognizable as something they might know. For me, it is not art, for most of the rest of the world, art, perhaps. Art is always in the eye of the beholder.


The other image, as taken, was made by me of the launch of a Space X rocket from ~25 miles away using a PC and a web cam. To me this is art. IMO.

(Bart Hoorweg) #3

That is a very interesting question… I think everything can be transformed into art. It depends on the eye of the beholder. As Bill says as well.

However, it seems that naming something art is also a way for us to distinguish between things that have eastethic value and things that have a function to perform. To me it’s a made up distinction that we use to make sense of the world. It doesn’t mean it’s the truth. And I believe that we could make the world a much more interesting and beautiful place if we get rid of the distinction. The fact that we call some things art and others functional makes us think that it should be one of the two. Whereas why not have both?
Take for example to houses that are being build these days. They seem te be build to last a few decades with a very functional focus, whereas back in the days buildings were build as an expression of the best thing they could produce at the time. They created pieces of art, that were functional as well. I believe we should go back to a way of creation in which everything is made as a piece of art, with love and attention. Maybe that would be the definition of art; something that is made with love and attention. What do you think?

(Justin Brown) #4

This reminded me of something I’ve read by Alain de Botton about the architecture of our cities. I went digging and came across this excellent video by him:

It boggles my mind how awful so much modern architecture is in our cities. Why are older cities so much more beautiful and pleasant to visit?

“Functionalism” seems to drive so much of what we do in modern day society.