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Can art be bad?

Use this forum to have philosophical discussions about aesthetics and art. What is art? What is beauty? What makes art good? You can also use this forum to discuss philosophy in the arts, namely to discuss the philosophical points in any particular movie, TV show, book or story.
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Mattmaximillian
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Can art be bad?

Post by Mattmaximillian » August 30th, 2013, 9:03 am

I was wondering if Art can be objectively bad? There is some music out there that I find flat out terrible and despise the fact that come songs can actually qualify as 'music'. Music is meant to stimulate life and make it even more exhilarating. Would anyone agree that there are some artists and songs that truly fail to stimulate life? Any thoughts?
"He who fights with monsters might take care lest he thereby become a monster. And if you gaze for long into an abyss, the abyss gazes also into you."- Nietzsche

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Shadowfax
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Re: Can art be bad?

Post by Shadowfax » August 30th, 2013, 9:30 am

Everyone's perceptions are different. If I thought heavy metal was bad music, another person might think it's the best music they've ever heard. None of us can prove the other wrong because we only have access to one perception. So art can be 'bad' in the eyes of the one person who thinks it so. But generally, it cannot be classed as 'bad' art. So no, I guess there is no such thing as bad art.

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Mattmaximillian
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Re: Can art be bad?

Post by Mattmaximillian » August 30th, 2013, 9:44 am

I see. I've been to art museums before, and some canvases have just a line of paint down the center of it, nothing more. Is this art? I say no, how can that strip of paint stimulate life?
"He who fights with monsters might take care lest he thereby become a monster. And if you gaze for long into an abyss, the abyss gazes also into you."- Nietzsche

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Shadowfax
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Re: Can art be bad?

Post by Shadowfax » August 30th, 2013, 10:01 am

It's bad in your opinion. But you do not speak on behalf of everybody, because you perceive that artwork through your own perception. Perception and opinion is warped by our personal contexts, and everyone's perception and context is different. Therefore you cannot say it's bad art. In your opinion it might be. But art cannot possibly be 'voted' or deemed bad or not, because we can't step into another person's perception, and say one person's opinion is more worthy than another's when critiquing art.

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Michaelpearson
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Re: Can art be bad?

Post by Michaelpearson » August 30th, 2013, 10:30 am

So that which is good or bad art is a purely subjective matter? I too have seen some absolutely pathetic pieces. Is consensus involved in the judgement of a piece of art. And what is pure subjectivity? Can it be represented in art?

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Mattmaximillian
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Re: Can art be bad?

Post by Mattmaximillian » August 30th, 2013, 10:37 am

If I look at a blank piece of paper on my table before I eat breakfast, can I consider that art?
"He who fights with monsters might take care lest he thereby become a monster. And if you gaze for long into an abyss, the abyss gazes also into you."- Nietzsche

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Michaelpearson
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Re: Can art be bad?

Post by Michaelpearson » August 30th, 2013, 10:56 am

Thought and labour went into the production of the blank piece of paper in a way analogous to that in which thought and labour go into the production of a work of art. The blank piece of paper can be considered as a canvass at least. It may entice you to, in some way, represent yourself on it at which point, I suppose, it may have become art. If you were to doodle on it that could definitely be considered as art. Some would say "Yes" and some would say "No" hence the question being posed I suppose.

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Mattmaximillian
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Re: Can art be bad?

Post by Mattmaximillian » August 30th, 2013, 10:59 am

So are we all to agree that everything that the eye can see can be considered art? Absolutely anything?
"He who fights with monsters might take care lest he thereby become a monster. And if you gaze for long into an abyss, the abyss gazes also into you."- Nietzsche

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Michaelpearson
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Re: Can art be bad?

Post by Michaelpearson » August 30th, 2013, 11:13 am

I'd say No. Can natural forms of life be considered as art? A lot of artistic endeavour is the re presentation of natural form.

Percepeg
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Re: Can art be bad?

Post by Percepeg » August 30th, 2013, 12:35 pm

I think that visual art, music and poetry are expressions of an idea – just as language is. If we are moved emotionally by any of these ‘languages’ we judge it as good, if not, the communication has failed and the piece of art means nothing to us and we judge it to be bad.

Nature, I think, is a fantastically successful ‘artist’ – her productions regularly resonating with us on very deep emotional levels.

But I don’t think any human art can be intrinsically ‘bad.’ It can be unsuccessful, although rarely (if ever) totally unsuccessful.

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Michaelpearson
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Re: Can art be bad?

Post by Michaelpearson » August 30th, 2013, 12:54 pm

I certainly agree that success does not always equate to quality in artistic terms. And that "natural productions" can resonate with us at very deep emotional levels. Art that resonates at a very deep emotional level can be considered to be of a very high quality.

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Fafner88
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Re: Can art be bad?

Post by Fafner88 » August 30th, 2013, 7:20 pm

Of course there can be a bad art. In every genre or style of art there are certain criteria which define what considered good or bad in that given style. Are there any more general aesthetic criteria which define 'good art' across different genres or styles (like pop and classical music)? I'm not sure, I think it's sometimes yes and sometimes no. I can't for example understand Indian or Japanese music, it sounds too alien to me, I feel as though it should be listened in a completely different way then I listen to the music I know and understand.

As to the objective/subjective debate, I don't quite understand what is it all about. What it takes for a piece of art to be 'objectively' good or bad? Does it require universal agreement? People disagree all the time about facts, and yet we don't think that everything we disagree on is 'subjective' (like history science etc.). Artists put a lot of effort to perfect their skills in order to create better works, what would be the point of that if art were merely 'subjective'? It isn't 'subjective' in the sense that 'good' and 'bad' are defined by my subjective (say emotional) responses (or anyone's else) to a given piece of art, because no one cares about that. What really matter is the shared practices and traditions between the participants in a given art form (the artist, the audience, the critiques etc.), which give the background against which the art is judged. To ask about the practice is it 'subjective' or 'objective' doesn't make sense, since the meaning and the porpoise of the practice is given 'from within', and once you understand it this question doesn't arise (no one tries to justify to himself or others why he listens to music).

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Michaelpearson
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Re: Can art be bad?

Post by Michaelpearson » August 30th, 2013, 9:08 pm

I agree with a lot of what you have to say but people do not disagree all the time about actual facts. A fact is that which is the case and people tend to agree about that which is the case. "That car is silver" is a fact if the car has, for the sake of argument, silver paint. History is not a good example of a set of facts because, like art, it is open to interpretation. (History repeats itself it just gets the details wrong).

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Mattmaximillian
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Re: Can art be bad?

Post by Mattmaximillian » August 30th, 2013, 9:28 pm

What I really want to get at is this: is art based merely on opinion? Are there sounds, or sights, that all humans can come together and say "This is significantly bad". I think that this is quite impossible to happen.
"He who fights with monsters might take care lest he thereby become a monster. And if you gaze for long into an abyss, the abyss gazes also into you."- Nietzsche

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Fafner88
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Re: Can art be bad?

Post by Fafner88 » August 30th, 2013, 10:11 pm

Mattmaximillian wrote:What I really want to get at is this: is art based merely on opinion? Are there sounds, or sights, that all humans can come together and say "This is significantly bad". I think that this is quite impossible to happen.
From the fact that people disagree about something, it doesn't follow that people 'merely have an opinion'. So if we take an extreme case, it's very unlikely that all people will ever agree on a question like the existence of God, does it make his existence 'subjective'? Or let's take an intermediate case, what's more objective- to use the metric or the British system for measurement? Or better, is it more objective to measure people's height with meters or light years (or microns)? In one sense it's a matter of pure convention, and yet nobody in his right mind will use light years... It shows that the objective/subjective distinction is not sharp, but there are gradations. Art is maybe not like science, and yet it's also not like testing ice cream.

And let's suppose that all people would eventually agree in their judgments about art (a purely contingent matter), will it make necessarily art 'objective'? Suppose you didn't liked a certain song, and yet all of humanity disagreed with you (it's a really great song). Would it change your judgment? It's not very clear what 'objectivity' in art suppose to mean.

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