Defining what makes GOOD art, good
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Posted 10/5/13 , edited 10/6/13
Hello! It's been ages since I made a forum post, so I'll start by introducing myself! I'm Thepoorfool, as many of you clearly see because it says so, over there, in the corner! Okay, now that introductions are over I will get to the point!

I recently had a very interesting discussion regarding human perception, specifically regarding what makes GOOD art good, and how perception, experience, and human emotion tie into whether or not something is perceived as good, or bad; liked, or disliked, so to speak.

Anyway, my main points were these: In my mind there really is no definitive, and for lack of a better term, neutral (good, or bad) art. It is all about perception. What we see, how we see, and how we interpret what we know and learn all combine to make us who we are, and that has an effect on what we like and don't like. My point being, that because by definition of what makes us human, we are different, different things are thus good or bad to different people. Take fame for instance. Fame is very perception driven, as in order for someone to be deemed (famous) they must have a large fan-base. So how do you get a large fan-base? You produce good art, whether it be music, drawings, paintings, literature, etc., many people must see your work as (good). But again, we see this word (good) and wonder, what is good? What does (good) really mean? This is where perception ties into fame, as it does in many other things. If a large number of people perceive your work to be satisfactory, and obtain enjoyment from it, they might consider it (good) art. But then there are those who will dislike that particular artist’s work, and say its (bad). This is where perception comes in, and where we really need to take a step back and look at human emotion, interpretation and experience.

The first, emotion, has a huge effect on our everyday lives and has a great impact on whether or not we deem something as (good, or bad). When we are positively stimulated by a piece of literature, music, or even a painting, we might label that piece of art as (good), because it made us feel good, not necessarily because we honestly think it's a well-made, theorized and well put together piece of art. Then again, we may very well think it is. Again, it's all about perception. But what I'm getting at here, is that as much as we're driven by what we know intellectually, we're driven just as much if not more by our emotions, and what we like is largely governed by how we feel about the things we encounter.

Now interpretation relies heavily on experience, and heavily influences emotional reactions to what we experience. We'll get into experience next. Interpretation is essentially the way we receive things, be it our thought processes on what we're hearing, seeing, learning or actively doing; we are perceiving our reality based on how we interpret it. Interpretation is highly influenced by experience, just as emotion is. We feel different about various things because we've all had varying experiences. Those dissimilar experiences cause us to perceive things in very unique, and often, dare I say, different ways. What I'm primarily getting at here is, that interpretation relies heavily on and is influenced by experience; in addition to that it is highly influential to our emotions, and how we feel about the things we encounter in our lives.

Experience, as we have briefly mentioned above, governs both interpretation and emotion to some degree. What we go through in life, traumatic, happy, or saddening experiences, shapes who we are, how we act, how we make decisions, and what we choose to do. Experience also shapes what makes us happy, sad, angry, stressed, etc. Experience is the defining factor in our character, personality, and ultimate selves. It is what makes us, as human beings, who and what we are. For better, or for worse. What I'm mainly getting at, is that experience is the driving force behind how we both perceive, and receive our world. Depending on past experiences, we may regard something as mundane and normal as a clown with little interest, or deem it hilarious. Some might consider the clown terrifying. Experience, interpretation, and emotion are very intertwined and each effects the other in very subtle ways.

I won't go into extensive detail on all the subtle ways experience influences interpretation, interpretation experience, experience interpretation, experience emotion, etc, etc. I will say however, that experience affects interpretation in that it causes us to see some things as interesting, others as boring, sad or humorous. We feel a range of emotions as a result of how we interpret our environment, and our interpretations are as based on our hormone levels as they are on our various accumulated experiences.

All of these factors, experience, interpretation, and emotion tie into what is known as! You guessed it, perception. The way in which we perceive our world, and as a result receive it, is governed largely by our experiences, how we interpret those experiences, and our resulting emotions.

So, we now have a firm grasp of perception and how it can dictate what people deem to be (good, or bad). So how does this affect fame? It effects fame in the same way it affects how people think of sweets, or bike rides, or small-talk. Depending on various accumulated experiences, the resulting interpretation of our surroundings based on those experiences, and the emotions we feel as a further, more final result of that interpretation is how we see things as (good, or bad). The simple answer? If it makes you feel good, you'll most likely label it as (good). If it doesn't, you may or may not label it as (bad). While the entire situation is far more complicated, and not at all so black and white, that is a basic interpretation of the situation. While our various experiences might make us hate, or like some things more than others, the simple answer is still true; if it elicits a pleasurable emotional reaction, instead of an unpleasant one, people are usually going to think that particular thing is (good, not bad). Of course, this is where context comes into play.

Context is governed by experience as much as any other thing in our lives. We perceive it like anything else, and obtain emotional reactions from it. For example, if someone who was of the opinion that lewd attire was unacceptable saw someone, or something that stimulated that dislike, they might be likely to dislike whatever elicited that connection. That is a perfect example of context. Something coincides with an existing dislike, so we're more likely to dislike that particular thing.

Now guilt and perception of right and wrong also play a large part in contextual interpretation. For instance, I might want to eat all five cookies I bought at the fair, but I promised to only eat one so my family could enjoy some as well. If I chose to ate all of them, disregarding my promise and upsetting my family, I would feel guilty, and thus bad, regardless of how good it felt emotionally in the moment to eat those cookies. This is a perfect example of guilt at work, and how it influences our decisions. If we think something is wrong, and we have strong morals, we are unlikely to take the course of action that results in a wrong-doing. As a result we see that by making a choice, or decision that makes us feel good, we can ultimately feel bad as a result.

As a result of these factors, one might perceive art as (good, or bad) based on how it ties into their cultural, moral views, as well as how it fits in with their sense of right and wrong. All these factors are governed by experience and interpretation.

But let me get back to how all this ties into how we think of art as (good, or bad). Like I said at the very top of this article, I do not believe there is a distinct, or neutral (good, or bad) label we can really give anything. It's all left up to the interpretation of singular, different individuals. Experience, interpretation, context, emotion, ones sense of right and wrong and thus morals, in addition to an unimaginable amount of other factors tie into making some perceive something as (good), and others to perceive something as (bad). As I said, it's all about perception!


The above are solely my opinions. This is my interpretation of perception, it's effect on how we see things as (good, or bad) and how that effects art. It is not to be taken as absolute fact. Even if some of it may be absolutely factual. I cannot site my sources for this information, as it largely comes from a long period of accumulation of knowledge on my part, and all was written from my own reasoning with that knowledge. It is not written for the purpose of education, as much as to get a point across. I welcome readers to give their opinion on what I have said. I hope that my words and point of view elicit a pleasurable effect on any readers that care to take a look at my ideals.

Thank you for reading.



Sailor Candy Moderator
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Posted 11/25/14 , edited 11/26/14
Year-end cleanup. Closing threads with no activity since 2013.
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