Gertie wrote:We tend to categorise things so they fall into neat boxes via certain properties, this is a vegetable and that is a fruit, and that can be a useful form of labelling and organising. So we can pick some properties that we say something we want to categorise as 'Art' must have, then put stuff into our designated boxes. But things in reality often aren't that cut n dried, often it's more accurate to see categories in terms of prototypes, with radial relations, so one thing is more prototypical Art than another.
And some more recent Art has consciously played with this idea - is a urinal Art because somebody calls it a 'Fountain' and signs it? Well why not? If I say 'No', that isn't similar enough to a Mona Lisa, you can't put it in the same box marked 'Art', then maybe you'll miss out on something interesting, rewarding, or beautiful to you by not seeing it in that context. I don't like missing out, so if the artist says I'm calling that Art, I want to give myself the option of looking at that something a different way, her way. Maybe I'll get something out of it, maybe I won't, or maybe I'll think it's ****, but there you go, that's all fine.
There are ways of defining things that don't require neat boxes. If I can give a botanical example it might clarify what I mean. When you are diagnosing a plant species the normal process is a succession of binary choices; does it have feature A or not, or does it have A or B, but in some cases the situation is more complex. Within Erodium, for example, there is a group of species where the choice is made from half a dozen overlapping sets of features. Within the group there are, say, from two to six variations for each feature, such as type of hair on the base of the stigma, and each species has a different set of six of these features. Each member of the set is different but they all go into the same box. That box, of course goes into a larger box. There are sets, sub-sets and sub-sub-sets etc., and art can be seen in the same way. The definitions can be very broad and flexible but as long as the artifact has some of the whole range of possible features, it fits in the box.