The Definition of Art

People find it difficult to define art. I find it simple. I have ever since I attended an introductory college course on poetry but many have so I suppose I must credit my professor for this definition.

Art is compressed meaning, in a given medium, and using that medium’s communication devices.

The question is often asked, “Is this art?” Video games, for example, are often critiqued in this way. But of course they are, given a proper, objective definition. The real question is really often, “Is this good art?”

Literature has literary devices to compress meaning, such as contrast and comparison, imagery and symbolism, metaphor and conceit. Other media, such as painting, or music, or sculpting, have their “language”, too, devices or methods used to figuratively communicate some meaning.

Painting may use perspective, texture, or stroke to indicate meaning. Music may use instruments or rhythm to convey meaning. Sculpting may use material, edge, or orientation to communicate meaning.

All media have their devices and methods of communication, and as they are used to compress meaning they then become art.

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