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Op Ed

Art or Not?

While traveling the web I often stumble upon arguments debating whether some object or media is art or not. Most of the time the arguments appear over a commercialized product be it a novel, music or video games. I’m sure everybody heard or said at least once: “They just do it for money” and sometimes something stops being artistic enough to be considered art, simply because someone doesn’t like it anymore or too many variations exist on the idea of it.

Take a novel, for example, I’m sure nobody will call out an author’s first book as not being some sort of artistic work. What about the second one, the third…the sixth one? When does a novel become something else besides art? When it becomes work?  When it become successful? When it’s made with a widespread audience in mind?  Why would a book with one more digit on it be less artistic then a book with no digit? Unless people simply categorize something as art because it has a particular writing style, everything else is déjà vu and isn’t artistic any more. I know it’s a lot of questions, but at the bottom of “this book is not art” we find lots of prejudices and beliefs that fail to grasp what art is.

Lets hop into the world of music. Do boy bands make art? Or at least their songwriters and music composers? They are in it for the money, in fact most of them were created by a studio to sell tunes by the millions and make lots of cash. But are they less “artistic” then a classical music composer or an indie group? They still perform on a stage, despite not necessarily being in control of what they are doing. They still sing and play music. And they make a lot of money. Can something be label as not being art, simply because an individual doesn’t like it?

Art can be found in every medium, but I think that video games are the most complete. They roll visual, vocal, musical and written mediums all into one. Yet, most people don’t see these as artistic, because they are a form of entertainment and created simply to make money. But most video games use their own art styles, be it cartoony, stylized realism, painted or true to life. Some have stories, some feel like movies, some can be boring. Some are more about sports, some are about letting the players create their own things. Yet,  video games are mostly shunned for being not art.

Now you might be wondering  “what is art?”. Well, the online dictionary has 16 definitions of the term, I’ll let you peer through it. It goes from work related to expression and aesthetic principles. But why does something need to stop being art? When the quality is not there? But who defines the quality required to enter the world of artistic creation? Is it something everyone can discern, or is it something only an expert can decide? I doubt we could reach on consensus on what makes art, well, art, but sometimes asking ourselves questions allows us to find answers. For me, art is the expression of emotions, I don’t mind that people make money that way or that I don’t like some artistic creation.

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