"I'm not going to get too much into what specifically qualifies art as art, because obviously that's always going to be an open debate. What you can look at, is what we know about art through our history, and if you want to leave it as open as possible, then art is that which can be recognized and justified as art, in the same spirit, on the same level and under the same terms. Basically what you can defend as art. To do that you need intent, and to prove intent, you need reason. That's not in most of the games that people call art, and why would it be? It was never meant to be art, it was meant to entertain."
Hmmm. I'm still not 100% on what qualifies as genuine artistic intent, or how one might assess it, and thus what's to stop e.g. a handbag being a work of art if the craftsman tells you it is, or the estate of Michael Jackson pulling the same trick with Moonwalker, etc etc. Also, don't fall into the trap of suggesting that art, however defined, is a historical constant. IIRC from my undergrad, Shakespeare thought that his poems were the more worthwhile, the more "artistic" (because less commercial or populist) part of his portfolio; nowadays, his plays hog the pedestal.
Just playing devil's advocate here, really - saves me from actually having any arguments of my own ;)
"No matter which way you look at it, or how open to your individual projection they may be, every piece of art is a dictated experience. You might not see what the artist sees, but your experience is still completely defined through his focus, and any notion you're going to draw from it, will be a result of his creative vision. A painting isn't an ethereal realm of your mind, that's your own overdramatization - Really, it's just a painting."
There are so many stimuli in the intellectual life of a community, so many inputs and outputs if you like, that attributing any particular range of interpretations to the "vision" of any one individual seems farcical - much as insisting that all those interpretations originate in the mind of the person experiencing an artwork would be farcical - unless of course you position "vision" on such broad terms as to be meaningless. What do you mean by "focus", exactly? Are we operating in the realms of conscious thought here - because if we aren't, the argument from intention runs into difficulties again.
"Art isn't supposed to be complicated, that's just you overthinking it. The less you think, the easier it is to qualify."
An... interesting proposition :) Doesn't it slightly cut against the distinction you've drawn between art and "easily understood entertainment"?
Lapsing into the realm of actually-saying-something-for-myself for a second, I think over-thinking is one of art's chief pleasures - in fact, I suspect it's the reason for its existence. Such a wonderfully slippery, fractious, bewildering term - if it could be nailed to a statement as straightforward yet opaque as "because the creator intended things that way", it would become tedious, and fall out of use.
Whatever else art is or does, it provokes debate, and debate is always worthwhile :) Thanks for the links - I'd run into Depict before, great cat-and-mouse vibe. Coma is in the same ballpark... http://armorgames.com/play/6286/coma