ART: the creation of a perceptual entity able to stimulate diverse conceptual structurings

The merits of any entity as a work of art can be evaluated in terms of a simplified layered structure of defining characteristics. From the perspective of a pruner or the user of a wheelbarrow, the intrinsic appeal of any particular work will be analysable in terms of these characteristics whether the individual is conscious of them or not. Just as the grammars of languages incorporate chaotic exceptions which do not invalidate the utility of the general simplifications involved, so it is that the following outline of a set of characteristics of art is likely to encounter the odd awkward anomaly.

The primary defining characteristic is what could be called 'awareness initiated juxtaposition' where entities are created and placed in locations that would not have happened had it not been for the input of an awareness. All the usual categories of artistic endeavour qualify on this count. Sculpture, literature, music, et al would be indisputably included, but there would probably be some argument about a bird's nest. Broadly speaking this thereby excludes 'natural' entities and objects. A flower in the field or a rock on a mountain is not a work of art.

The secondary defining characteristic is derived from the Latin 'ars' which meant 'craftsmanship'. The technical skill exhibited in manipulating the media is a major consideration. The degree of control the artist exhibits will often be the factor which dominates initial interest and evaluation.

The tertiary characteristic is 'simplification'. The infinite chaos of the cosmos, can only be interpreted or represented by simplified forms. The artist can create forms to present simplifications which either gratifyingly confirm the observers models or provokes the observer to re-examine their assumptions.

The penultimate characteristic is that of 'symbolism'. The use of forms associated with general existential concepts is a means of presenting artistic, sociological and metaphysical comment. Reference can be made to historical events and entities. Moral, political and intellectual judgements can be made. Satirical symbolism can provoke revolutionary change or unmerciful reaction.

The final defining characteristic is that of 'imaginative diversity'. The ultimate merit of a particular work of art is contingent upon its capacity to communicate with the imaginations of a wide diversity of awarenesses. Eventually, with repeated exposure, consensus will illuminate a work of art. A great work of art will appeal more and more to diverse ages, times, and cultural perspectives, as the variety and cut of the facets becomes apparent, and the range of individuals capable of appreciating the light refractions is revealed.

From the artist's point of view, theirs is an activity of constructing models about reality which attempt to communicate unique creative associations. They are involved in the manipulation and complexification of existential materials and phenomena, into forms which are capable of inducing unforeseeable emotive and abstract conceptual responses. Artists create perceptual forms of communication which ensure that by way of the chaotic associations of their dream world they reassess the structures of convention, and so reaffirm or question the forms of their nurture.

Art is as many faceted as the entities it strives to create. It can be a therapeutic restorative. It can be an alternative creative escape universe. It can be the statement and promulgation of cultural identity. It resists any constrained definition of itself, just as does the universe from which its inspiration is drawn.

Although the art produced by an individual should be evaluated according to the broad principles outlined above, there should be no constraints as to what an artist should or should not do. If an individual has the desire to express themselves artistically, then the pragmatic course of action is to create those works s/he feels best equipped to bring to completion. Each and every individual artist must believe that their simplification perspective is worth presenting. Whether the principles herein indicated are ever applied is anything but assured. Indeed, for the business world, art can be a convenient category devised by those who wish to benefit from the claim, that there is more to some craft than meets the eye for retail.