Artist Intent: The Role of a Medium Who Talks

Artist Intent. Photo Credit – Flickr: incurable_hippieIn the chapter, “Interpretation and Identification,” in The Transfiguration of the Commonplace, Arthur Danto considers two painting, J and K, that are “distinct, enormously different works, however visually indiscernible.”

The following example depicts a similar case to highlight Danto’s art philosophy argument.

The Creations of John and Kevin

John is in his fourth year of art school at the undergraduate level and still feels he has learned nothing about what makes a creation a work of art.

His drawings are drastically different from other students’ drawings in his classes, yet they are all treated as works of art during his class critiques. John’s drawings appear three-dimensional and resemble photographs, while many of his classmates do not approach art through realism, and instead produce, what John considers, very juvenile drawings. Nonetheless, these drawings are evaluated, put on display in school art shows, and considered art by everyone John comes in contact with, in the same fashion that his drawings are considered art.

One day, John gets fed up with producing art for a college that is going to consider anything he produces a work of art. He no longer wants to spend time using care and precision in his drawings to make them look like photographs. John decides that since his work will be treated as art regardless of what it looks like, he might as well not even physically produce the art himself.

To complete his work for the remainder of his time in art school, John designs a computer program that randomly generates “art.” The software produces colors and shapes that form a composition, and the only effort John puts into creating an artwork is pressing a “generate art” button. When John hears his classmates and professors try to analyze what the colors and shapes could represent in the first work that his software produces, he laughs to himself because he knows that no artistic intent went into the creation of the work. The composition took virtually no time to create and symbolizes nothing for John. [Read more…]