Quality in Art Part 3

Another important aspect of quality is Newness. An artist is supposed to create something new. Such behaviour is not foreign to most fields in modern society. Our society is constantly developing new things: fashion and design must be new, companies need new strategies. Science and technology make new discoveries. But art has its own profile of newness. First it has to be new, and, second, connected with the concepts transcendence and transgression. The idea of a radical newness comes from the idea of the romantic genius; the genius was able to create a higher form of experience. The genius is nor more, but transcendence/transgression remains. Transcendence is the more profound change. But it is, however, very rare. It might be possible to talk about transcendence when modernism was created and later when Duchamp made his ready-mades. Conceptual art in the 1960s and post-modernism in the 1980s are other reasonable candidates. Transgression is an innovation within an existing system and more common. Provocation and challenging are other possibilities to claim that a work has newness. In modernism the only way to express newness was visual; newness meant a change or variation in what could be seen in the artwork. In InCo the newness can be constructed in the content, the aboutness. As there are only small variations left to be discovered in the visual aesthetics the standard for contemporary newness is the combination of different parts of a project: Aboutness, installation details, performing, activities etc.  

It is not necessary that the physical appearance or even the project as a whole is innovative. A written text can explain that the artwork is new, different and interesting. If it is accepted then, of course, we have newness. 

The production of artworks within InCo is enormous and as newness is a natural standard we have to face the conclusion that most of the newness is not new at all. It is a standard product. But the convention of art makes it impossible to accept a standard product as good enough. Therefore it is necessary to constantly create newness which are convincing for the artworld. This means in practice that the level of quality in today’s art is rather low. But it is normally only to be used for a short time. Then most such qualities will be completely forgotten.  

The presentation of newness is mainly to be found in the biennales or exhibitions of that kind. Newness does mean something like the spirit of time or at least a relevant view of the world around us. Therefore it is not the individual cases of transgressions which are the most interesting rather tendencies; a number of artist can be seen as creating a new vogue of meaning and statements. As everything in art today is related to the social, it has to be within this field. 

But it is still important for the individual artist to make enough newness to be recognized. The basic task for every artist is to express a certain style and/or a special range of interest and content in order to establish a “trademark”. “Trademark” is a bad word in art so very few members of the artworld use it in a positive way.  

Newness is a necessary aspect of quality but in practice the newness doesn’t need to be very alarming.  

Incomprehensibility is another necessary condition for quality. If an artwork is too clear it will not leave anything to the interpreter. An artwork is about something but should be so in a twisted way. To be unclear is a part of the art game. It happens that artworks are very clear often because of an interest in urgent social or political questions. It could work for a very short time but as it tends to be an illustration of something it breaks just this rule: Do not illustrate. Normally artists know this without thinking. To make the message a bit obscure and twisted are the way things normally works.  

Poetic and aesthetics. A work of art has certain effects which during modernism were the identity of art. Now poetic attitudes and aesthetics expressions are complementary aspects of quality. They are neither necessary nor sufficient but they are present in almost every work or project. If a project is made about refugees from
Iraq a straightforward documentary might not be enough for being a good work of art. The poetic and aesthetic effects are thus complementary as it is not possible to accept a full quality standard of an artwork (belonging to InCo) from only these aspects.

In the next part: The conclusion about how the mentioned aspects of quality will be made specific for art.  

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