...I still contend that art, like beauty is in the eye of the beholder. And your opinion of what is or isn’t art is no more or less valuable than anyone else’s opinion ...
I am sick to death of hearing / reading the zillions of equally stupid variations on this topic - especially prevalent on photo blogs/site. What surprised me, re: this specific comment, was the short but sweet (and amazingly cogent) response by Kirk Tuck:
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. But art is an entirely different matter. It's a coherent cultural consensus of history and aesthetic value. That's more objective than, "I like anchovies on pizza."
IMO, that response is right on the mark. Lasting meaningful Art, as opposed to Decorative Art, is indeed "a coherent cultural consensus of history and aesthetic value". What is considered Art is not determined by a bevy of twits texting / tweeting, American Idol style, to register their senseless eye-of-the-beholder votes/opinions. Sorry, it's a whole lot more involved than that.
That said, what Art, as determined by "a coherent cultural consensus of history and aesthetic value", one chooses to like or not like, is, of course, up to that person's individual taste and preferences. I certainly have no problem with that concept. The concept I do take issue with is the "eye of the beholder" nonsense which so many who, ignorant of historic consensus (sometimes referred to as "education") and devoid of any sense of aesthetic value beyond "wow", use it to mask their lack of any intellectual and emotional rigor, understanding Art wise.
In my experience, very few "serious" amateur picture makers (relatively speaking) devote any time reading / learning about the medium and its apparatus (apparatus = any system or systematic organization of activities, functions, processes, etc., directed toward a specific goal. In my use of the word, it most emphatically does not mean gear). On the other hand, they do spend a consider effort reading about and festering over hardware, i.e., the tools with which a picture is made. Again, I have no problem with this fact but, if one's intention is to make lasting and meaningful pictures, you're barking up the wrong tree.
In any event, where I am headed with all of this stems from my recent entry, civilized ku # 2110, and a recent issue of Aperture magazine.
Coincidentally, both my entry and an essay in Aperture features the same Stephen Shore picture. In fact, the essay in Aperture (Winter 2011), Form and Pressure (to read the essay, click on "inside" and then click through to the essay), is a brief look into the mind of Stephen Shore, in his own words, about the making of his picture, Beverly Boulevard and LaBrea Avenue - Los Angeles, California 1975. The essay is very interesting and contains a number of points I will refer to in entries to come. PS You should read the essay just to guard again becoming one of those dumbass medium-and-its-apparatus know nothings.
With that background stated, my point is this - if you can't write a simple essay (200-300 words?) about your own pictures (or any specific picture of your own making), without mentioning gear or using the phrase, "I like ...", you most likely don't understand what constitutes a lasting and meaningful picture. And, here's the crux of that matter, if you don't understand what constitutes a lasting and meaningful picture, coherent cultural consensus of history and aesthetic value wise, you'll probably never make a lasting and meaningful picture. Maybe by accident or happenstance you might, but, as to doing so as a matter of course, forget it.
BTW, if your interest in making pictures is not overly concerned with making lasting or meaningful pictures, that's perfectly OK - really, I sincerely mean that. However, in that case, you might want to consider ignoring the preceding. As the saying goes ... never try to teach a pig (even if you're the pig) to sing. It's a waste of your time and it really annoys the pig.