Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Is this a good picture?

Someone showed me a picture and asked: "Is it a good picture?"

What is the definition of a good picture? Why do you want to know? Are you interested in investment value? Did you want to know its aesthetic value? What is aesthetic value? I'll leave it at that. For fun, one could read Critique of Judgement by Kant, to get an idea of how such questions could lead to complex discussions.

Often what one means by "good picture" is based on an assumed agreement about what constitutes a good picture. What if not everyone agrees? In my opinion, there's no need to say a picture is good or bad, other than to state preference within a context. Do you want to buy the picture, or to hang it on your wall? Maybe you can't decide whether or not you like the picture.

You might decide it doesn't interest you. That it doesn't interest you doesn't mean it's no good. Maybe the picture in question doesn't meet your personal guidelines about art. One could reflect on the nature of one's personal guidelines. Often a person doesn't reflect or question one's assumptions or judgements. One might state a feeling and then turn it into a dogmatic generalization regarding the worth of the picture.

Everyone has an "uptight horizon". The uptight horizon is the point at which one becomes uncomfortable and adopts a negative, aggressive reaction.  One might ridicule and verbally abuse the picture. Such aesthetic statements are little more than the expression of emotion, mood or state of digestion, rather than reason. When pressed for explanation, the hostile critic might react with anger, as if to say: "I think, therefore it's true. I have spoken. Let no one disagree." Such a statement perhaps assumes the existence of an objective reality where all inhabitants on earth agree, or some place where truth is carved in stone, leaving no room for discussion.

No comments: