do you think it’s possible to evaluate the craft of an art piece objectively, and if so, what criteria would you use to do so?
It’s the world I come from, man. Have you ever been to an art site before? You know one of the most popular things around there? Tutorials. Tutorials and critique. Everyone is always trying to get better. To achieve the things that are hard. You can’t create from a blank slate, you need to learn things about the world to be an artist. Some artists are better, some are worse. You wouldn’t put the average deviantartist in the same league as someone from ConceptArt.org. The key thing is, from a technical perspective, artists work on similar sets of criteria, they learn about color theory, composition, perspective, construction of forms, shapes, and what all those things mean. We’re all working to do things a better way than we did them before and if we didn’t have similar criteria for that, then we . Not everyone gives their best performance all the time, everyone has their own preferences, but people are capable of improving, consistently producing better art. People are capable of recognizing improvement, judging art.
Being objective in art means establishing a clear set of criteria that can be shared between the critic and audience, then establishing whether the work meets those criteria or not. The fact is, objectivity has to exist on some level with art because we have observed the trend of certain advice and certain practice consistently producing results that are difficult to impossible to produce in someone unskilled. People learn more and there is a gradient between simply operating in one style versus another and picking up and applying new drawing skills to a work. Below that, there are certain fundamental principles which people can master, allowing them to switch between styles, applying themselves in different areas, with a lot of ease.
but how would you define those criteria? on what bases would you do it? Historically, too dogmatically defined criteria have caused pieces of art to be dismissed by their contemporaries, to be hailed praises later on as being a work “beyond its time”. Ideal set of criteria shouldn’t let this happen.
By examining the medium, the work in question, and bitterly arguing to the end that I have the right set of criteria and no one else does.
To give a more real answer, there’s a concept, Supernormal Stimulus. Animals are conditioned to find certain things appealing because finding them appealing is beneficial to their survival. Some species of birds prefer to sit on larger eggs, with more extreme spotting. This allows them to be manipulated by other birds like cuckoos who lay their eggs in other bird’s nests, those eggs being larger than the bird’s own eggs. Scientists have constructed even larger eggs, so large the birds can’t sit on them at all, with even more extreme speckling, which these birds prefer massively to any real type of egg that a bird can lay. In short, the aesthetic senses of animals (and humans) prefer certain ideals that don’t exist in the natural world, and may not be possible to exist in reality. A very real reflection of this is supermodels. We all know they’re photoshopped by now, they represent a type of beauty that cannot exist in people, but we still prefer these images to the real thing, because the ideal woman is like the concept of a platonic ideal, to give a parallel.
People have differentiations in preference, but there is a common consensus on a large number of criteria that can be objectively quantified. If there wasn’t, then critique wouldn’t be consistent and improvement would be a myth. Everyone would be equally capable of producing anything anyone else could.
The key aspect is figuring out what those base aesthetics a work of art is meant to appeal to in the first place and how best to appeal to those things. Then there is a division between a populist interpretation of this versus a more… extremist? Aestheticist? Not sure what the word would be, but essentially the divide between bringing pleasure to the most people and delivering the greatest amount of pleasure within the constraints of the work. Is the best work enjoyed by the most people, or the work with the potential to be most enjoyed?
The other thing is, no work of art can be everything. To appeal to one sense of aesthetics, it must sacrifice in a different area. What we can do to judge artwork is figure out the commonalities in skillsets between different sets of aesthetics and attempt to judge based on how well the work executes those fundamentals, and how well it performs within that given aesthetic, genre, or medium.
The ideal set of criteria is one that is true for now and always. Einstein disproved the law of gravity, but we still use newton’s laws because they’re close enough for most work we need to do, and precise relativistic calculations would take forever for most purposes. The key thing is figuring out what the constant in the human mind is and how it is reflected in actionable principles in the medium. See composition theory and color theory.
I have thoughts on what this would constitute for games, but I’m hitting character limit. (Haha, I know I’m reposting this and don’t have a character limit, but I’m not going to elaborate anyway)