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Art or Design

>   That's an interesting way to look at it. If I understand this correctly, it says
>   that the object is not art or design, but our perception of it determines that
>   quality. That goes back to "Art is in the eye of the beholder." This shifts it
>   from the intent of the artist to the response of the viewer. That contradicts
>   some of the other criteria in the essay re "Purpose" and "How they are made."

Part of this issue is intention. Part is purpose. Part is perception. We cannot
forget that all three are actively involved in the making and understanding of the

Consider what goes into taking a photograph. You have to choose a film with a
specific speed. Then you have to choose an aperture opening, and a shutter speed.
You cannot take a picture without all three of these factors in operation. Each has
a particular effect on the final image, and the photographer choose which of them
will be the most important. Maybe you want fine detail and color fidelity, so you
choose a slow film like Kodacolor 25. That fact affects the possible aperture
settings and shutter speeds. But those options are also influenced by the available
light and motion of the subject. Etc. etc.

Art and design are not mutually exclusive polar opposites; they overlap in many
ways, they often look like each other, and they may in fact be each other.

When a pilgrim looks at the Sistine ceiling and trembles with the awe of creation as
conveyed by Michelangelo's images, he or she is responding in one way. When another
visitor trembles at Michelangelo's breath taking conception of God separating
thelight from the dark with a grand gesture, she or he is responding in a different
way. You may say the first viewer chose an aperture-priority picture, whereas the
second viewer chose a shutter-priority picture.

There is a current discussion on another list about how (or why or what happened to)
religious objects from a foreign culture became art objects in a Western museum.
That discussion is parallel to what we are talking about here.

Michael Brady
jbrady@email.unc.edu   http://www.unc.edu/~jbrady/index.html

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