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These articles reliably confuse art with craft and technique.

Art is about giving other people rich, engaging experiences that distill and/or highlight some element of relatable human emotional, psychological, and/or sensual experience.

The more unusual, original, and insightful the experience, the more interesting the art.

Doing something difficult with elegance is not art. Solving problems is not art. Complex but comprehensible systems that have "beauty" are not art.

If there's no emotional or sensual content, there's no art - just technique.

There's nothing wrong with technique, and art isn't better or worse than technique on its own terms. But they're different languages with different goals.

Calling software abstraction "art" is like watching someone who has discovered a for loop trying to persuade you they're an expert developer.




> Art is about giving other people rich, engaging experiences that distill and/or highlight some element of relatable human emotional, psychological, and/or sensual experience. The more unusual, original, and insightful the experience, the more interesting the art.

This is a great definition (and this is coming from someone who has studied it for decades).

I wonder, though, if you're being too hard on the writer. Art originally meant the same as skill or craft (https://www.etymonline.com/word/art#etymonline_v_17037). You can see it also in the word artisan, which would likely be applied to a cobbler or carpenter. I believe you are defining the fine arts, which more specifically refer to art purely for the sake of emotional expression, as opposed to the more practical arts, like cabinetry.

Nowadays the sense of the word art has narrowed more to what you're saying, to what our forebears meant by fine arts. But it is not always used that way. Many times I have heard people refer to common, practical activities as requiring some "art". Or they might say that someone who does it with exquisite taste has elevated the activity to art (like, cooking). This is even though it wasn't about, as you say, distilling experience into some other medium.

People loosely use the word art any time that an activity presents some options, any time there is a choice to be made, and a much better result happens when you choose well. By this definition, almost anything could be called an art, or at least could involve art. The only exceptions would be things that are 100% formulaic, like maybe working an assembly line (even then, I wonder if assembly-line workers distinguish some room for art in their duties).

The two meanings continue to intermingle, because all of the arts take craft, and all of the crafts take art. If you want to be a composer, painter, or writer, there are skills to master (the musical scales, paintbrushes, sentence structure). If you want to be a carpenter, chef, or architect, there are always choices to be made, every project is unique in its own little ways.

My point is, your definition is very useful to anyone attempting fine art. But I wouldn't attack people who use the word more broadly (and this is coming from someone who likes writing and who often is irritated by imprecise diction).


Boring means that it's predictable, something you'd expect or have seen before.

In design you work towards a desired outcome, usually something that adresses a group of people, and therefore a set of characteristics. The outcome can be repeated, or changed in a predictable manner. That what lies between the outcome and your intent is what design is obsessed with, process, templating, decoupling from environmental factors, including your own personal characteristics. Sounds like functional and good OO programming right?

Art is the opposite, it's obsessed about capturing unique outcomes, originality. This means that what lies between the outcome and your intent is also about the opposite, coupling unique personal and evironmental inputs.

Performing arts, or arts and crafts are more like design, outcome driven, it's only that they can't remove human inputs because those are also expected to be there.


> Art is about giving other people rich, engaging experiences that distill and/or highlight some element of relatable human emotional, psychological, and/or sensual experience.

Some of the loveliest art wasn't created with any care or interest in anyone else ever seeing it-- but just because its creator loved it for what it was and felt it needed to exist.

If you're a programmer and have never seen true art in a program or its underlying algorithm-- some ingenious machine which moved you with its elegance or serendipity-- then I feel a little sad for your sake. It's not necessarily common, but its out there if you open yourself up to it.


I think you got it on the nose. I think folks who engage in more “traditional” arts (painting, music making, ...) really develop a distinction between these often interacting concepts. When playing an instrument, you distinguish between creative interpretation (art), musicality & sonic control (aural craft, imho), and manual or corporeal dexterity (technique). Of course, one’s ability to communicate a musical interpretation is propped up by the

(In very rare circumstances I might consider a program to be art, like the original metacircular Lisp evaluator, even if the author’s express intent wasn’t to appeal to somebody’s emotions.)


If it's possible to have "bad art", then it doesn't really follow that only beautiful or conceptually interesting programs qualify as art. Either it's all art - the beautiful and the interesting with the boring and ugly - or none of it is. Maybe you'd agree 'artfully constructed' covers what you mean?

I think art is contextual. Some art comes with that context built into the mind of the observer, like paintings or music, or something that tells a story - and there are many, many ways to tell a story.

Other art has its context declared for the observer, like Duchamp's 'ready-made' sculptures.


I think you are technically correct that we often use the wrong word, art instead of technique. However it is common use of "art" to mean "high level of technique" for example in martial arts.

Likewise many people currently use "Corona" instead of "CoViD-19". We still communicate just fine. Still, precise use of words is necessary in technical documentation and a blog post might be considered as such. Maybe not though.


In The Oxford Dictionary and Thesaurus, American Edition (1996),

    art /aart/ n. 1 a human creative skill or its application. b work exhibiting this.
Of course, those are the first of many definitions.


That was helpful and clear, thanks!




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