Hot take: artistic skill is not related to the ability to clearly and memorably express ideas through artworks, but instead the effectiveness by which one invites viewers to perceive meaning in artworks (which, being material, are inherently meaningless).

· · tootstream · 3 · 9 · 13
@enkiv2 i find myself agree, but then i also find myself lacking a term for that skill, the skill of clear, memorable idea expression

it's different from art to art, for photographers it would hinge on technical skill and serendipity, for painters it's their skill with the fundamentals, and for musicians, it's their ability to take their music and put into a fixed medium (mp3, flac, etc.)


I mean, 'clarity' seems reasonable enough

or 'eloquence'?

@enkiv2 i guess
hmm i'm not satisfied with that though, but then again, i come from a music production background, where "clarity" meant technical skill in sound capture, sound synthesis, mixing, etc. etc.

i guess clarity could mean different things to different mediums
@enkiv2 you also got me thinking that the perception of meaning in artworks can be tied to the memorability of that work, since if a work is not memorable, it doesnt stew in a persons head, and the amount of meaning that can can extract gets limited

perhaps invitation is not the only factor? it could also hinge on memorability as well
@enkiv2 or maybe the invitation itself is a marker of the memorability of a work, but then again, there have been some art created for shock value that has been very inviting of criticism, which is a meaning-making in some way


My only problem with it was that it didn't do anything that the urinal didn't do 100 years ago

Like, the pinnacle of artistic skill is to reliably make your audience have thoughts they have never had before while also making sure that those thoughts are maximally different from each other.

Thing is, most conceptual art just makes people mentally recite the essay about R. Mutt's 'Fountain' they had to write in middle school.

The problem with the banana is that most of us have done similarly "brilliant" things, either messing around as teenagers or drawing/inventing as kids. But the reason it became so well known has nothing with any particular skill of the artist, except perhaps their skill in attracting an audience. By the logic of this art, the class clown is by far the most worthwhile contributor to the artistic output of the class.

I enjoyed the banana itself enough, sure. The ensuing dialogue was useful and interesting (in parts), sure.

It's still a cheap ass stunt of an attention whore that most everyone else is too embarrassed to pull.

I don't actually disagree with your OP in principle, but one of the side effects seems to be this, and the world could really do better.

It also brings us David Lynch and Mondrian so I think it's a net positive

Sure. I think my complaint isn't that it's wrong, but that it's not enough on its own.

In your examples, great effort is taken to invite interpretation. In the duct taped banana, the effort involved in coming up with the idea as well as the execution takes less effort than a April 1st prank.

I'm not sure if a measure of effort is the right thing to add, but something else...

Right, there's a trick to inviting people to think *interesting* things, mostly because thinking is hard. And that's underappreciated in some avant-garde circles.

Like -- Piss Christ doesn't make us think of anything interesting (particularly 100 years after Nietzsche noticed & explained the death of god). It's just shocking in a fairly rote capacity: a mechanical shock deployed by one mechanism to another.

But, Rothko's color fields are an example of something relatively conceptually and procedurally straightforward that nevertheless produced such a response.

And McLuhan's "probe" statements are really good for this purpose too, despite being quite short.

It's harder to produce good "probes" than it seems, but it's possible for normal people. I was involved in a project to gather them (here: but in the past few years the quality control has gotten bad as a different audience started focusing on it.

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