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We experience art as an emotional reaction to our senses. Enjoying art has a personal meaning and relevance; therefore, we evaluate art differently depending upon our own values, perceptions, and knowledge. For example, there are some studies that suggest a correlation between our political attitudes and our preferred types of art.

However, just because we enjoy something or get an emotional reaction from it doesn't make it art. For example, someone can prefer blue socks over white socks because the color makes them feel better about their outfit. But that doesn't mean that all clothing is art or that adding a color to an object makes it art. So, regardless of our feelings, there must be something else that distinguishes art from non-art.

Most psychologists and neuroscientists agree that "emotions arise from some kind of subconscious appraisal or evaluation of a perceived or imagined "stimulus" in relation to stored information about similar stimuli or events the individual has experienced in the past." Although they have been able to make some associations (e.g., color, shapes), psychologists generally find it difficult to analyze or prove the relationships between our emotional responses to art and the aesthetics of art. Therefore, what brings us a certain emotion related to art can't always be tied to a particular aesthetic principle. As the principles upon which people evaluate art are different, our opinions and appraisals of art can vary dramatically as the article below demonstrates. This is likely one of the many reasons why there are so many starving artists trying to make money from their creativity.

According to Wikipedia, "Art is the product or process of deliberately arranging items (often with symbolic significance) in a way that influences and affects one or more of the senses, emotions, and intellect." But is that really all it takes? If we lay trash out on the floor and take a picture, does that make it art? What is and is not art? How do we determine if it's proper to consider someone an artist? What standard should we use to consider something as art? What makes art significant and personal to you? What values does good art represent to you? How much is art part of your life?

Some years ago Spy magazine punctured the pretensions of the art world with a simple prank. It took a bunch of paintings by preschoolers and hung them in a Soho gallery, then recorded the remarks of art aficionados who showed up and said the gassy sort of things people generally say about modern art. The episode offered some vindication for anyone who ever looked at a modern painting or sculpture and scoffed, "My kid could do that."

But last week the art world enjoyed a few minutes of vindication itself, thanks to a study by two psychologists at Boston College. Angelina Hawley-Dolan and Ellen Winner paired genuine works of art by famous abstract impressionists with drawings made by children, chimpanzees, and elephants. Sometimes they labeled the paintings correctly and sometimes they switched the labels around or omitted labels altogether. Then they asked study participants which works they preferred and why.

Regardless of how the paintings were labeled, the study participants preferred the works by the famous artists 60 percent to 70 percent of the time. What's more, the subjects explained their preferences by indicating that the works from the pros seemed to have more intention and craft than the works from the children and the animals. As one news account put it, "this suggests a blue squiggle created by an artist as a means of expression is fundamentally different than a blue squiggle created randomly by a monkey holding a paint brush."

...First, the experiment put the works of individuals who are supposed to be some of the greatest artists of the past century - such as Mark Rothko, whose works have sold for as much as $72.8 million - up against scribbles by children, chimps, and elephants ... and the great artists barely managed to squeak to victory. When the paintings carried no labels at all, even art students preferred the famous artists' paintings only 62 percent of the time, and judged them to be better works of art only 67 percent of the time. "The chimpanzee's stuff is good, I like how he plays with metaphors about depth of field, but I think I like this guy Rothko a little bit better." Not exactly a ringing endorsement, is it?

"Better than a chimp" is not high praise


Original posting by Braincrave Second Life staff on Apr 6, 2011 at http://www.braincrave.com/viewblog.php?id=521

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