Category Archives: Art / The Arts

How to make good stuff?

This rather technical question is supported (and supports at the same time) by multiple theoretical questions, for instance, what makes stuff good? What type of stuff are we talking about? Is there something in common for this stuff? What is “stuff” anyway? If you look at all different kinds of stuff in an analytical way, trying to evaluate it, you will see a pattern of specific traits which affect your, and everybody else’s, opinion on the stuff. They are the main topic for discussion in the papers given to us (“Taste for makers” by Paul Graham, “Knowledge and the Arts” by Mr. Macknight, the IB’s knowledge framework for Arts), they are represented by the terms beauty (or aesthetics) and taste. Perhaps, they are the key to understanding how to make good stuff?

Beauty and aesthetics are something everyone talks about, but no one really understands. One, looking at a piece of art, may say that it is beautiful, while others may say that is hideous. We can see this practically everywhere, debates on art’s beauty are present throughout both the professional community and regular people who are interested in going to an art gallery from time to time. If anyone can argue about art’s beauty and aesthetics and can have their own opinion which can be criticized, can we then safely say that beauty is subjective?

Many philosophers speculated on the importance of beauty. At the low end, beauty merely provides decoration to make life more pleasant, at the high end, the experience of beauty was thought to elevate the soul toward the heights of purity, wisdom, and (sometimes) religious exaltation.”

“Knowledge and the Arts” by Eric T. MacKnight

If beauty provides nothing more than “decoration”, then anyone can judge it. If beauty is about more than just making stuff pretty and pleasant to the eye, there must be some criteria for analysis. However, we cannot deny that beauty has a subjective part to it, emotion will always affect the knowledge given by the artwork, despite the reason at work. Events happening in one’s life will reflect the said one will perceive an artwork. So there have to be two parts when evaluating an artwork, subjective and objective, such as an “a bridge between personal knowledge and shared knowledge” (from IB The Arts knowledge framework.)

If we have the subjective part, then what makes the objective part? If it is objective, then it can be quantified, measured, determined, It has to follow certain rules. To both create and evaluate art from a technical standpoint, one must be proficient in the art mastery, without which one simply would not recognize the work done and it’s quality.

“’A lot of [applicants to the MIT] seem smart,’ he said. ‘What I can’t tell is whether they have any kind of taste’”

“Taste for Makers”, by Paul Graham

It is then taste which makes the objective part. And while a lot of people will say that “taste is subjective”, I would like to argue that it is… kind of both. To have taste, you must have the technical knowledge to be able to see the mastery behind the work. However, we are human beings, affected by emotion. Life events, while being the subjective part of beauty, cannot affect the technical knowledge given by the reason. Perhaps the analyst has a personal preference for a certain type of painting technique or thinks negatively of electronic piano, because of personal life events. Another knowledge question arises from this conclusion, “How can the knowledge ever be pure from subjectivity?”. Whatever the answer may be, it does not limit taste, and therefore the beauty of artwork from being objective, as the technical analysis always persists.

So, what is the stuff and how do you make it good? One answer is: we don’t know. If we cannot affect the subjective part of beauty, because it is more unique to the one perceiving art, we have to work on the objective part. Yet, no matter how hard we try, there will always be someone whose subjective view covers the way for the objective analysis. So, maybe a different kind of question should be asked, “To what extent can the analysis be made objective?” and “Do we even have to make the stuff good?”. At the end of it all, it’s all about asking the right questions.


Art from a different prospective

After watching the video explanation from the girl from Ipanema and going through the handouts,  taste for makers and knowledge, & the arts. I’ve completely changed my point of view towards the arts, and how they must be judged. I thought they had the sole purpose of having people give their opinion on whether they like it or not.

After the video, The Girl From Ipanema is a far weirder song than you thought I started seeing the arts from a different perspective.  Understanding that technical merit is different from personal taste. I  also realized that something that seems so simple can be made up in a very complex way making it wonderful. So to quote Paul Graham ” good design looks easy & is also simple. This takes me to my next piece of art by John Latham.

Figure 1

Full stop by John Latham, for years I saw pieces of art in museums where it all seemed so simple; I would see it and wonder, “why is it in a museum, anyone could do this”. But now looking at things from different points of view I see that there is more to it.

The spot was created by repeated action with a spray gun, its curve delineated using weighted sheets of newspaper cut to the correct shape and, as a result, traces of rectangular forms are faintly visible outside the circumference. The circle’s edges are blurred, particularly on the left side where a sprinkling of tiny and slightly larger dots emerges from the dense black of the large spot.

This made me rethink my position, seeing that although it seems simple in fact it’s hard to copy. I also read some of the comments about it and people described it as “a solar eclipse, a black hole or the negative of photographs of light reflecting off planets in the dark galaxy. ” Which also remarks on what Paul Graham suggests in taste for makers which is that good art resembles nature.  This all led me to the conclusion that even if I didn’t like at first, once you understand the merit behind it you grow to appreciate the merit behind it.


Figure 1: Full Stop 1961 John Latham 1921- 2006 Presented by Nicholas Logsdail and Lisson Gallery, London 2005

Art discussion

Art surrounds us everywhere in the world. In the whole history of humanity, every generation had a standard of beauty and they keep changing till today. In my opinion, there is no way to judge art. Humans made standarts of beauty and we try to follow them in everyday life.  The way we look, talk, what and who we think is pretty.

As a great example, in the 21st century, Van Gogh is an important figure in art history and most people appreciate his work.  During those times, he was suffering from poverty because no one though his artworks were good and didn’t deserve the attention. We can just imagine what made people change the way they see the artworks. We can say that it’s just our taste, but the taste is a changeable phenomenon and there is no right answer to the question of “what is the beauty of art”.

Our taste is built by the society we are born in and by our environment. What we think is our taste, is actually just a combination of everything we collect from other people. Taste also depends on age and field of activity. The person who never was interested in art would look at an artwork made by an artist completely different from the person who dedicated life to art. The second person will notice at the first sing the technic of the artwork (proportions, the use of light and etc). And based on the knowledge he gained, he can judge the artwork. The person who doesn’t know or not interested in all details will lean on the emotion the artwork provides.


Reflection on the arts

In a general sense, art is any human activity that draws on emotions and the intellect to create works that have aesthetic characteristics. This groups together different areas -such as sculpture, painting, dance, poetry, cooking, cinema, prints, theater, comics, photography and numerical art- which have evolved throughout the history of mankind.

“Every child is an artist. The problem is how to continue being artists as they grow up,” said Pablo Picasso.

To understand it, it is enough to look at children who are capable of taking a pencil and scribbling on a sheet of paper long before they can speak: from this point of view, art is synonymous with creativity, therefore, it is important both for the development of skills and knowledge, as well as to implement learning and experience.

Art is closely related to human nature. The different forms of artistic representation correspond to the need or, rather, to the fundamental characteristic of expressing themselves that human beings possess. Art plays a mediating role and a driving force in communication, since the artist through his creation transmits not only emotions, but also messages, and makes us reflect on our existence, social problems or life in general. From this perspective, it becomes a tool that can change or educate a society.

The Arts

When it comes to art, the first thing that comes to mind is that art is a form of expression of creative abilities, but after reading the brochures on “knowledge and the arts” and “taste for creators”, I became to the idea that knowledge in art is a way of understanding or having an opinion about a work of art in the connoisseur. Knowledge in art exists, through this knowledge, it can be implicit, particularly because, there is no right or wrong way to interpret a work of art, like everything you think is beautiful, for others it can be the opposite.

“Art is something we do, a verb. Art is an expression of our thoughts, emotions, intuitions, and desires, but it is even more personal than that: it’s about sharing the way we experience the world, which for many is an extension of personality.” (Philosophy Now)

The taste for the arts depends on the taste of the people, some people may refer to art as a piece of decoration or others simply do not like it. I consider that each person has their point of view and concept for art.

About the video of “The Girl from Ipanema”, which is a clear example of how research can lead us to its main concept to have a clearer idea of its originality. For some people without knowing the story behind it, they just said they didn’t like it or they didn’t enjoy it. but on the other hand, in the video of “The Girl from Ipanema”, a person asked and inquired more to understand in detail and in my opinion that helped that her opinion was different from others.

Art – Josefa Ortega

After I red the two handouts “knowledge and the arts” and “ taste for makers”  I think that art is an essential element of culture but it is pretty hard to know when a piece of art is good or if it is bad. For some people art is just decoration and do not think it is something essential. In the handout “ knowledge and the arts” it is very easy to understand why art is important, art helps us to reflect about our lives and ourselves and that converts into wisdom which is the highest form of knowledge. When you look at a piece of art, or listen to it, you can feel the artist emotions and that takes us to think about ourselves in relation with that emotion.

To judge a work of art there are two aspects which are, the technical merit of the art and the profundity of the questions it raises.  when you are judging it by the technical merit you have some sort of expertise, like the handout says “The art historian’s judgment of a painting is worth more than the judgment of an uninformed tourist who wanders into a museum with his wife” and for the second way of judging it consists of the way it makes you feel and the questions it raises.

I think art is very important because it helps us gain knowledge that we could not be able to get by maths and science, it makes un wiser and it also is very beautiful, so I do think it is essential for everyone to know and appreciate art as to what it is.

The Arts – Eloise Richardson

The Arts are very different from other studies such as Maths and Science. Where Math and Science are based off of facts and whether they are correct or not, Art is purely based on personal opinion and experiences.  As the viewer grows older, and experiences more, their thoughts and opinions change about the art. Maybe they see a different meaning behind it or have different thoughts about it.

On the other hand, there are parts of art that is more similar to other concepts is the technique. Its a firm answer whether it turned out how it was supposed to look or not. For example if you are drawing a realistic face and it turns out the way that it was intended, then you have the right techniques. In that sense it is very similar to math as in it is a set answer.

The last comparison I am going to make is Beauty is simplistic, in math they look for the easiest solution. To them that is the beautiful solution. In art, sometimes it is the same. Simply designs can be seen as appealing However that is not always the case, a lot of art that is busy, and chaotic is also considered quite beautiful.

The Arts

One aspect in the article ” Taste for Makers” is trying to tell me that Good design is simple. However I don’t entirely consent about this because in different area of art there are different judgement and criteria on which composition is good or which math formula is the  best.

Firstly, there are a lot of fantastic art composition in the history, some of them are quite simple for example like The Starry Night which is painted by Vincent van Gogh. But another famous painting The Last Supper which is painted by Leonardo da Vinci is not as simple as the one that I mentioned before. Both of these art works are very famous. In a word I strongly indicate that not all the good design is simple.

On the other hand, it is indispensable to solve a mathematical question without a formula.  The formula that we used are not all very simple, there is some simple one for example like a^2 + b^2=c^in the right triangle, but the most important thing is that except the formula that we know there are countless equation in the mathematical world so if the author say all of them are simple this could be contradicted by other mathematicians.

Good design is simple. You hear this from math to painting. In math it means that a shorter proof tends to be a better one. Where axioms are concerned, especially, less is more. It means much the same thing in programming. For architects and designers it means that beauty should depend on a few carefully chosen structural elements rather than a profusion of superficial ornament. (Ornament is not in itself bad, only when it’s camouflage on insipid form.) Similarly, in painting, a still life of a few carefully observed and solidly modelled objects will tend to be more interesting than a stretch of flashy but mindlessly repetitive painting of, say, a lace collar. In writing it means: say what you mean and say it briefly



  This ice cream is handmade in small batches by our master
ice cream chef. All the ingredients are 100% natural, organic, and completely free of any
artificial additives or colorings of any kind whatsoever. The cream comes from cows raised in
luxury dairy farms where they are treated like movie stars. Nowhere in the entire world will
you find ice cream even half as good as Waldorf-Ritz Gourmet Ice Cream!”
“I know that your ice cream is the best in the world,” I sighed. “But I don’t like pistachio ice

The author just won a free best ice cream in the world, which accquired all the good properties: best ingredients without any artificial additives, the cow raised in luxury dairy farms and being treat well…  but he still don’t want it, because he doesn’t like pistachio flavour ice cream which led to a significant problem, how do we determine whether a piece of art works are good or not?

Like many of the half-truths adults tell us, this one contradicts other things they tell
us. After dinning into you that taste is merely a matter of personal preference, they
take you to the museum and tell you that you should pay attention because
Leonardo is a great artist.

I think that the taste of food are not the same case, when it comes to the “taste of art”, in this example, the adult told also that the taste of food are merely a personal preference, of course it can be very subjective,because it’s a physical sensation so you can make the decisions rightaway, just like that ice cream cases above .

But the “taste” of art could be hard to define, because it does not have any acutual feeling or sensation, you have to manipulate that abstract art works in your mind and come out with an idea, which might not be very convinsable, if I’m trying to introduce a flavour to someone, he/she can understand that taste very well even they dont, they still can try that taste, and get the direct physical feedbacks. But if your trying to tell someone about the judgement toward a piece of art works, they would probably confused and have nothing to do with the abstact concept. That’s why people would creat some sort of “art expert”(authority) in order to solve the problem.

In conclusion we can’t determine whether a piece of art works are good or not.

The value of the art

“Mona Lisa” was valued at 3.45 billion US dollars in 1920, and now its conservative valuation has exceeded 10 billion. But I feel that something is wrong, because even if we spends tens of billions, it is impossible to reproduce the “Mona Lisa”. Therefore, money as the estimate of artistic , which is neither precise nor objective, because the value of the art not about external factor, the value of art is what it inside, the time period it stand for, the unique social background or the vision for the future, those artwork are more strong than the  word. We can feel through doth artwork, that’s the valve of the art.

Differences in Good Design

In “Taste for Makers”, the author mentioned a number of different aspects that what he think a good design should be. In my opinion, some good design may contain some of them, but not all of them can be fit in a good design.

Good design is simple. Similarly, in painting, a still life of a few
carefully observed and solidly modelled objects will tend to be more interesting than a stretch of flashy but mindlessly repetitive painting of, say, a lace collar.

In this paragraph, the author think that a good design is simple, he gave the opinion of a still life tend to be more interesting than a stretch of flashy. I don’t agree to it. The reason why is in the most famous, and recognized art museum like Musee du Louvre in Paris, we don’t usually see a painting of an apple, what people like the most is always the painting like “Mona Lisa”. In this oil painting, Leonardo da Vinci used about four layers to represent the most beautiful smile that can be shown on a women’s face. More than that, other well-known painting are all complex, the background, the character… When I was watching them, I can’t find the word simple in them.

Good design is hard. If you look at the people who’ve done great work, one thing
they all seem to have in common is that they worked very hard. If you’re not
working hard, you’re probably wasting your time.

This paragraph support my idea. The author says that people always work hard for a good design. Then how could a hard work be simple? How could a simple art be known for thousand of years? If a good art is simple, then this means everyone can easily do it. If so, the name of the artist that people know, will be two times or even three times more. We will need a much bigger place to exhibit their works.

Although this is a point that I don’t agree in this passage, there are still some good point. For example good design solves the right problem. A good art solves people’s desire for imagination, a good invention solves people’s problems in life. Good art in different eyes are different, all above in just my comment.

Guiding: A Key Aspect to Good Design -Kelvin M.

The handout ‘Taste for Makers’ resonated with me very much, being an art student and occasionally taking commissions from others for designs and illustrations. Of the aspects of good design mentioned in the article, two struck me harder than the others:

‘Good design is suggestive.’

‘Good design is simple.’

These two aspects are fundamental in the arts, similar to how literature does not send messages but raises questions. Good art and design can resonate with its audience and create suggestions and arise further thought about the piece of art. Many artists and designers, including myself, at times, mess up in these aspects. When designing, it is vital to avoid, by all means, the thoughtless piling of different elements. I say this because repeating the same element can be done in a very aesthetically pleasing manner. In contrast, overuse of different ones would only confuse, or worse, disrupt the further imagining of the audience.

This common misconception of ‘complexity = good design’ is widely spreading, as the internet fastens the pace of media consumption and the easiest way for a piece of art or design to leave an impression is through simply piling up popular elements. However, as Mr. Paul Graham said, good design must be simple and suggestive, or in my understanding, guiding. The key to a truly good, memorable design, through my own experience, is guiding the audience onto the parts the designer wishes them to focus on.  This technique is similar to using foil characters to better establish the protagonist in literature. Having many points of focus is not impossible, by all means, such as an ensemble cast, but it is impractical for a design.

Thinking about design in such a way can really help and project onto other aspects in life, such as writing, or something even more daily, cooking. When you cook a steak, it’s not a good idea to serve your steak with another slice of pan-seared salmon as a side dish, the two would fight one another for your attention, clashing tastes and overconsumption of protein and fat would soon make you feel sick of grease. Instead of this, how about just steak with some simple potatoes and asparagus to elevate it’s rich protein taste, followed by some nice dessert, like a sweet slice of Mr. Macknight’s favorite pumpkin pie?


seeing art

This is the number 1 voted piece of art work in the 2020 international art show (held online this year due to Covid 19) and was said to be so unbelievable for how simple it was. It was called the modern Picasso of simple-ism and that each of the colors represented a different meaning and all the layers showed so much and that the observers felt moved. I will talk more about the art piece later on but I wanted to talk briefly about this piece because the image can only be placed at the top of this document.

“seeing comes before words. The child looks and recognizes before it can speak. But there is also another sense in which seeing comes before words. It is seeing which establishes our place in the surrounding world; we explain that world with words, but words can never undo the fact that we are surrounded by it. The relation between what we see and what we know is never settled.” (John Berger).

What makes a piece of art “good”?  Is it the simplicity?; the complexity?; the uniqueness?, or the fact that it is a direct copy?; is it because it is timeless? momentary? beautiful or intentionally ugly? There are countless ways that art can be judged. The definition of “art” is

“Art is a diverse range of human activities involving the creation of visual, auditory or performing artifacts, which express the creator’s imagination, conceptual ideas, or technical skill, intended to be appreciated primarily for their beauty or emotional power.”(google)

So if art can be an abstract idea, a sound, a painting or dance, then we can not be able to depict if it is good or not. An example of what someone might call good art is Beethoven’s 9th symphony, and an example of what might be called bad art is 4 year old’s dance recital. However, as there is not just one answer to the question. If there is a teenage boy who completely hates classical music, and listens to Beethoven’s music, he might say that “Beethoven’s music is not ever good” and that he “does not like it”. There could be a mom or dad or anyone watching the little 4 year old’s dance recital and they could just be standing there, and to them it could be the best thing ever, bringing us to the first point, “art takes time and training”. Beethoven did not just sit there and in a few minuets come up with his music, “good design is hard”. But if we are saying that something is good because it is hard,  then if we say that “wiggling your ears is hard” then does being able to wiggle your ears mean that it is good design? If this were true modern art would not be in a museum.  From the quote at the start, when we are born, we don’t know much. All we know comes from our own experiences, and those might be wrong. We might see a cat and think that it is a dog, we might look at the question 1+1 and think that it means to cry.  We are born with just intuition and the development of our ancestors (DNA), and yet, without being able to say why or how, we like and dislike a lot of things.  We like or dislike eating  different foods and smells, different toys, and colors and animals yet when we get older, we are so feared of being directly judged for what we like, and the same goes for art. We are always told “this is good art” and we never know why. Then when we hear something like “the lines are perfectly placed” or the contrast or shading or whatever it is, is perfect or that the art makes us ask a question about something. We either agree because that is how we feel when we see it, we don’t agree, or we just go along with saying that its great art without even knowing why, we just do it. It is impossible to judge or grade a piece of “art” for anyone other than ourselves as we can only judge for ourselves when we are born, and have our own opinion without any influence because we don’t understand  anything.

From the picture at the start, you probably noticed, but it was all made up and it took me exactly 23 seconds to draw it, and sadly 24 minuets to try and find out how to upload it onto this blog. The point I was trying to prove is that you don’t need to be good or an expert at art to be able to  have an opinion on whether or not it is good or bad art. All you need is to be able to make decisions based on yourself, and not follow under the influence of others or what they believe. Regardless  of weather or not someone else’s opinion is the same as your own, you should follow your own opinions. As art is so objective and subjective, its impossible for anything to be considered good or bad by one person.

This is an actual famous painting, “the  church” by “Vincent Van  Gogh” and I have seen this painting so many times and even in person, and I have no clue why someone would pay a ton of money to go see it or to own it. What does everyone else think, as my opinion stands for just me.

The Arts- Andy

The way each piece of art is valued depends on each person’s perspective, for some people an art piece is something beautiful with a meaning behind it, but for others, it is the opposite. Artists normally use emotion to create a significant message and meaning to their artwork, and this message is received in different ways by each person. Then, how exactly can we know the value of a piece of art, what gives worth to a critique of a piece of art?
“For a long time in Western culture, everyone seemed to believe that the purpose of art was to create beauty”.
Which characteristic from a piece of art would make it “beautiful”? Some people study art that takes into consideration different characteristics such as originality, size, materials, among others, to make an art piece valuable. But the reason why the message and the feelings transmitted by the artwork depends on each person’s experience by looking at it. I also feel like the value of art has to do a lot with taste, the more someone knows about the history of art, and observes the artwork, the better their taste will be, like in fashion, each person has different taste, that also makes a difference when evaluating a piece of art. “If taste is just personal preference, then everyone’s is already perfect: you like whatever you like and that’s it.” If you feel like a sculpture is beautiful then that is it, it is your pint of view that creates a critique.
“Mathematicians call good work beautiful. Is it just a coincidence that they used the same word, or is there some overlap in what they meant? If there is an overlap, can we use one field’s discoveries about beauty to help us in another?”
I think that the answer to this question could be yes, all subjects studied relate to each other, it is a coincidence that mathematicians think their work is seen as art, art uses mathematics to make pieces symmetrical, and in many other ways too. In “Taste for Makers” by Paul Graham also talks about how the best designs use symmetry because it is a good way to achieve simplicity, he says that in pieces of art when you change the angle of your design, people notice it more.

Beauty in Art

Although for most of our lives we have been told that everyone has their own taste and that we can like anything, maybe not everything you like is beautiful. If you believe that a specific art piece is beautiful, you could be mistaken. An art critique can think that it is simply horrific, and give you a bunch of reasons why. Which then would probably prove your opinion wrong.

Throughout time, we have been determined to find out what beauty really is and so far we have had no success at all. One could say that nature is beautiful, and many of us could possibly think of a building that we also like. The Louvre, for example, is a beautiful construction, but is it anyhow related to nature? No.

Can we know if something is beautiful? Or maybe, do we know what beauty is? The answer is no. Beauty is never known and it won´t ever. Beauty is the perception of an object to a specific individual. And however many people may agree that something is beautiful, it still doesn´t demonstrate that it is beautiful, because someone will not like it.


The Arts

The arts are something we enjoy as they can be entertaining for instance, in a dance or theatre performance. But the difference between the arts and other areas of knowledge is that art is based on opinion or personal “taste”. In Paul Graham’s article Taste for Makers, Graham goes in depth as to how the ideas surrounding the arts can be used in other areas of knowledge such as mathematics.

The concept of something being aesthetically beautiful is well known in the art world but we usually do not connect it to other areas of knowledge like mathematics or science. In Graham’s article he explains how the word “beautiful” is used in many different areas and yet we do not typically connect those areas,

Mathematicians call good work “beautiful,” and so, either now or in the past, have scientists, engineers, musicians, architects, designers, writers, and painters. Is it just a coincidence that they used the same word, or is there some overlap in what they meant? If there is an overlap, can we use one field’s discoveries about beauty to help
us in another?

This quotation from Graham raises the important question of whether the discoveries and concepts created in other areas of knowledge can be applicable in other instances. This is important to think about because we do not typically think about the importance of aesthetic beauty in objects and things we make. When we look at a flower vase that we think is beautiful we don’t ask ourselves why. Why do I think this is beautiful? What draws me to it? How does something be considered to be beautiful? These are all questions of substance in this case that we are not yet asking ourselves unless you are some sort of art critic.

The most important thing to understand about all of this is art is not meant to be understood by every individual. Not every individual thinks the same way so therefore we cannot possibly all like the colour chartreuse. There is no definite answer as to how you can label something as “beautiful” because it simply is subjective. Although Graham’s article brings up many important arguments, my stance on the arts still stands the same.

The arts

Originally, my impression of art has always been related to the aesthetic appearance of external things, such as paintings, and architectural styles, etc. I also assert that art is about personal experience and knowledge, and has its endless value for human, so that is why I agree with the statement in the IB’s knowledge framework that “The arts could be thought of as creating a bridge between personal knowledge and shared knowledge…have a higher purpose to educate by encouraging introspection…how we should live our lives.” After reading the next two articles, I have gained a deeper understanding of art, but the central idea has not changed.

For “Knowledge and the Arts”, I think most of it is accurate.

Making Judgments about a Work of Art’s Quality
As I was saying, when we set about judging the value of a work of art, we come down to two
1. The technical merit of the art.
2. The profundity of the questions it raises.

To judge technical merit requires expertise….The second way to judge the quality of a work of art focuses on the questions it raises.

I like this part because it shows me in a comprehensive way how to judge the quality of art. Although everyone has different aesthetic standards, there are certain standards to judge the quality of a work of art, so professional knowledge is bound to come into play at this time. After all, the formation of a good work of art requires a lot of consideration and creation, and basically all the details have to be considered. Therefore, all the expertise about art would be meaningless if we just judge it according to our own aesthetic judgment. In addition to the technical merit, the meaning and depth behind the artwork must also be considered as a criterion. It can be said that art that cannot be attributed to human existence is not good art. However, here are some uncertainties. Human subjective thoughts have always existed, so how to accurately reflect the problems arising from artworks to human existence will be a big problem, after all, many line abstract paintings have fewer humanistic perception elements.

For the “Taste for makers”, I am not particularly surprised, as all of the content can be verified in reality. But there is one thing I want to say a little.

Good design is timeless.

In the case of eternity there is also only relative and no absolute.
But trying to be timeless will be the driving force and greatest foundation of good design. For example, Leonardo Da Vinci wanted to think of all the details perfectly when he created The Mona Lisa. Actually good design is about timelessness.

All in all, we should analyze art from many angles and aspects at the same time. Likewise, there is no best art but better one.

TOK art

After reading the two handouts, I understand what good design is, and why people like certain artwork or design.

It is true that people hold different opinions toward a piece of artwork or design, but a good artwork and design have a certain inner logic that everyone can appreciate.

good design is simple.

I strongly agree with that; good designs are usually simple. Because simple design keeps only essential things, cut off the frills. Apple is the most successful company in the world, and many people buy their products due to its good design. When you take a closer look at Apple’s products or the website, you can find their design is very simple. The website basically just composes the color of black, white, and gray with a little bit of description about the product; so do Apple’s products like MacBook, and iPhone that are very simple, but very effective.

For solving math problems, mathematicians are trendy to find the simplest solution, and the simplest solution is what mathematicians call the most beautiful solution. In math class, our math teacher always poses a difficult question but has multiple solutions as homework, and if someone uses the simplest and ingenious way to solve the question, he will receive common words like “wow! that beautiful” from other students.

Anh Tai Trang – The Arts

Art is a picture of color that is not tied to any one framework. Art is made of sounds, colors and feelings. We can see and feel art through many dimensions such as paintings, songs, etc. Because art is created through each person’s own rich imagination, there will be two streams of praise and criticism. There are many people who think the same way that a song or a picture is highly artistic, on the other hand, it is not an art.

Over time, the art becomes richer and the separate wings are created. When a large number of people listen to a song, they may “imitate” the lyricist because the melody is so ingrained in their minds. So can art be copied?

Good design is redesign.

No. Art is not copied because it has an individual’s personality and color. It can be “remixed” and carried a different color so that an idea can be enriched instead of being confined to one’s thinking.

Art has been redesigned to bring a different color fresh and positive. Therefore, the current images and colors all have a moment to honor the original. For example, the melody of a guitar can be used in addition to other instruments to “remix” and give a new color but still honor the guitar.

In short, art is a picture created in our imagination. It all has a unique color and meaning depending on each person’s thoughts. But, it’s called art.

The Arts

The taste of art is just a person’s view and someone’s taste is fine to be different from others. 

The story from the handout on page 7 “The Ice Cream Story” discusses that 

“judgments of quality are different from judgments of taste.” 

A specific example was given; a person went inside an ice cream shop, Waldorf-Ritz, and they served pistachio ice cream as he was one million customer. However, he doesn’t like pistachio ice cream. It doesn’t matter for him if it is using high brand pistachio and no artificial additives at all that the fact of dislike will not change. This is absolutely a personal taste/opinion and nothing to do with the people around him. Quality on the other hand can be evaluated by people experts in that field. For example, even I like certain artwork and say “I like it so much because many cute birds and squirrels are drawn with several colors”, some experts say something back at me such as “this is such a ridiculous work, unbalanced and zero emotion on it”.  

The other article, Taste For Makers, includes 13 types of good design. A statement I surprised the most was 

Good design can copy 

that I didn’t expect copying other work eventually link or support to create a good design. Paul Graham who wrote this article says that the emotion of wanting to imitate others’ work is that the person thinks he/she can be done better than that. Nevertheless, unknowing imitation is almost a recipe for bad design, he said. You have to be aware whether you imitate or not otherwise you are not able to make a design original. I am sure everyone has imitated anything before because I have done it thousands of times. I realized I am not good at painting and drawing when I was in 2nd grade. Since then, I once stole a few people’s ideas and combined them together to create my own work. My artwork was not good, to say the most, but at least it had done better than putting only my idea.

While studying knowledge in art, my thoughts on art change a lot. Famous artists have natural-born talent, that is what I thought at first, but then each artist has originality and specialty that can be seen from people around the world. Especially for artwork does not require a certain language to express emotion or opinion about works. At the same time, therefore, artists must cultivate their point of view in order to show their values. I believe that there is definitely a relationship between art and artist and art can contribute to a view of self.


The Arts

The taste of arts depends on each person who listens or watches the arts. Some people say that they do not like the art, some people say that they like it, and some people say they just do not care about it. Therefore,  it is weird that there are many arts which are considerd as univeserly good art. The evaluation of the arts are depending on each person, but there are some universal agreements that some arts are good. When Mr.MacKnight said this I thought there is a contradiction and it confused me. How do people feel that they like the arts? How do we judge the art is good or bad? Do people think it is a good art by the use of techniques? Then, how do you the techniques are going to make the art good? The longer I think about it, the more questions I have about this topic.

I agree with the statement that

Good design is simple.

I am not interested in arts, but I had to take arts until grade 9.  Every art class teacher showed the famous art which is considered as good art.  From that experience, I never saw the arts which are conplicated.

For architects and designers it means that beauty should depend on a few carefully chosen structural elements rather than a profusion of superficial ornament.

I think this can say for paintings, too. If there is a lot of use of colors and decorations, it is going to be hard to understand. I think art is one of the ways of expressing ourselves. If the people who saw the art will have a hard time to understand, it is going to be not good art. Some people may say thinking the meaning of arts is fun, but I never saw the art which is considered as good art and complicated in my experience, so I do not understand those people.

However, I know it is just my opinion who does not have any knowledge of arts. Taste of arts depends on each person, but the knowledge of the arts does not depend on the person. There is much knowledge and judge the arts. In the beginning, I had a question “How do we judge the arts good or bad? ” As I write this I may have an answer for this. Good arts are considered as good art by judging with knowledge of arts.  Going back to the statement that “Good design is simple”, The Girl From Ipanema is simple too. I guess most people will think that song is simple by listening without knowledge. The video which analysis the song also says that

Every bit of melody is either a reputation of something came before or itself the start of a new sequence which is useful.

There are many repeating in a melody which is simple. Therefore, I can say that good art is simple. However, I have a question about this topic. People who do not have art knowledge will say they like art which is considered as good art by making judgments based on their taste. Then, what is the relationship between taste and knowledge of arts?


In fact, before reading this article, my perception of art is very weak. It can be said that I don’t have much understanding of art, including the reflections for me, but when I finish reading this After two articles, the arguments in the article gave me great enlightenment and some understanding of art. There is an argument in the article, that is, the author said that after contacting art, he can easily discover what his identity is. At the beginning, this argument was a little confusing to me. Why would I discover what my identity is after I came into contact with art, but when I read the content of the article later, I discovered that through art, we can reflect on ourselves. Who is it and what is life.
In fact, the whole world is imperfect, because we still have art. Why do we still have art? It’s because the real face of this world is not 100% perfect, so there will be art courses to discover or Create the perfection of this world, so we can discover what our life is through art, or what our world is, instead of just living in a realm, and some works of art can’t express ourselves. The whole life, or short-lived emotions, some of the paintings of some previous writers, many parts are works to express or to inform their own emotions. Later generations will find that the author is creating works. The feeling of being a person, and the future generations know their identity and living environment of that era. So art is a subject that can be used to prove one’s identity, including living environment


“Art is what you can get away with.” (Andy Warhol).  This quote got my attention because it is true,  any kind of art will always have two perspectives involved, the one of the artist, and the audience.  The art will always have more than one opinion, art is something that can’t  be “wrong”.  People will always have different perspectives and opinions of it, involving their emotions, prior knowledge, reason, perspective,  culture, etc…  artworks have their own inner logic.

For a long time people think that the point of doing art is creating beautiful artworks, but that idea has been challenged over time. What is beauty? People have different opinions, and tastes. That applies to art, when people paint or do music or any other kind of art, they are transmitting their emotions and thoughts, it may be beautiful or ugly for some people, even the artist, but at the end everything is art. Someone can not decree on what is valued as art and what is not. For example, “The Girl From Ipanema”, it is the second most recorded song in human history, although most people say is horrible. It started reaching popularity over the years, by combining rhythms, harmonies, acoustics of other genders of music, and applying them to the song. Going back to “The Girl From Ipanema”,  it was the first time Gilberto created a unique way of playing the guitar. “Today experimental error is tomorrow’s new. theory.”(Paul Graham).

My perspective of art changed drastically after the discussions in class, because I realized that how people perceive art depends on their knowledge, and by staring at a painting or watching a play or hearing a song carefully and ask yourself some questions, you don’t just connect with the piece of art, also you learn things about yourself. “And if we learn about who we are, where we are, and how best to live, then we gain the highest form of knowledge, which is traditionally called wisdom.” (MacKnight).


Taste for Makers

Aesthetics is the understanding and inheritance of the ideals for human beings. It will never be in a popular style. To me, beauty is a feeling in the heart that can only be understood, but cannot be expressed in words. All beauty is created by the mind. The essence is the independent consciousness without thinking, it does not have a true definition, because people will create their own heart of beauty with what they do and what they see. The most beautiful thing is what you like. Guangqian Zhu who is an aesthetician said, “Life is a relatively extensive art, and everyone’s life history is his own work.” Life is beautiful,  this is an undeniable fact. As long as you pay attention to it, you will be attracted by many objects, these may be things you already like, because they struck a chord in your heart, or areas you haven’t explored yet, because your intuition was telling you they are beautiful.

The Arts

I believe the arguments in “Knowledge and the Arts” and “Taste for Makers” are persuasive, However, there is something to be said about the arguments made in both “Taste for Makers” and “Knowledge and the Arts”.

Through art of all sorts, we reflect on who we are, where we are and what life is for. Through art, We explore what it means to be human. We search for wisdom. What could be more essential than that? (Knowledge and the Arts, [11])

We may learn a lot from the arts, like who we are and where we are, but if they are so essential, then why are they always the first subject group to be removed from schools as soon as there is a budget cut? With this logic, can we not make the assumption that the core subjects (math, language and the sciences) are more important than the arts?

Paul Graham stated in “Taste for Makers” that

It’s a matter of pride, and real pleasure to get better at your job. But if your job is to design things, and there is no such thing as beauty, then there is no way to get better at your job. If taste is just personal preference, then everyone’s is already perfect: you like whatever you like, and that’s it. [2]

If everything is already perfect and there is no such thing as beauty, then why do people spend their entire careers trying to design and build more beautiful and modern ideas and concepts? How can they get better at their job if there is no way to create something beautiful? If everybody has a different taste, is there a way to please everyone?

The arguments in both of these articles were persuasive and made me think about what the arts are and how they encourage me to think deeply about what the arts can teach me. They help us figure out who we are and why we are here. I believe that music is a great way to be able to express oneself in a way that only means something to the composer. If I write a song about something tragic that happened in my life, others will be able to tell that it is a sad song but the piece only means something significant to me. That helps the composer thing about who they are and their place in the world, as well as helping others find out who they are.

Taste for Makers Blog Post

In this blog post, I will be reflecting on quality vs taste as talked about in the Taste for Makers hand out. The difference between quality and taste is quality really cannot be argued about, while taste in something can be. For example, artists like Elton John and Phil Collins songs are high quality, and in my opinion that cannot be argued about. however, I really like Drake as an artist, and many people may not agree with my taste in music, but I like his lyrics and think his songs are catchy.

A really good example of quality vs taste is the ice cream story. The Waldorf-Ritz ice cream is very high quality, and made with all natural ingredients, while the Mr. Softie ice cream is made with artificial colours and sweeteners and flavours. Even though the narrators friend knows that all this stuff is bad for him, and is made of almost no real ingredients, he prefers it to Waldorf-Ritz,

“I know,” he said. “It’s crap, and it’s really
bad for me, but I love it anyway.”

I think the whole point of this story is that even though things are fancy, it does not always make them best. Sometimes people prefer simpler things, like music that does not really have any meaning but they enjoy or that makes them feel good, or food that they know is bad for them but is okay to eat once in a while and really savour when they do. Taste and Quality are both important,  but I think people need to balance both, because if you only like things because they are fancy, have a deep meaning or are good for you, then you may not enjoy the simple things in life. sometimes you just need to eat Mr. Softie or listen to rap, even though many people do not consider it high quality.

Quality vs Taste

When I think of quality, I think of how well something is done. How much time is put into something whether it tastes good or not. Taste is more or less like an opinion. Saying a song is bad is just like saying something tastes bad, it is what you think but there will always be another person who thinks differently.

To reflect on this argument, we will be taking a good at “Quality Vs Taste: The Icecream Story”. A good example to show that taste is just an opinion is when someone is talking about how bad the ice cream is for your body (which connects to the quality of the ice cream) and then they say “I know” he said. “It’s crap, and it’s really bad for me, but I love it anyways”. Just like most unhealthy foods, the quality of it is terrible obviously because it’s just chemicals and food dye but I see people eating foods like that more often than not.

It is like a home cooked meal. In my opinion, when you know where your food comes from, whether you grow it from your garden or you bought it at your local store, it just feels good to eat a nice home cooked meal when you know what you’re putting into your body. It is usually much more work to prepare food for yourself all the time but in the end you are being more healthy and probably saving money than if you were to go out and eat everyday. If you are smart, quality wins over taste.

The Arts

One aspect of the arguments that was made in “Knowledge and the arts” and “Taste for Makers” which I found interesting was about asking the right questions about the work of Art. Then we begin examining our own responses to it: what it makes us think about, what it makes us feel (Knowledge and the Arts, P. 6) From the more we ask questions and continue to study a piece of art over time we can develop more of an interest in it and begin to understand it better. This can also have an effect on our opinion about the value of the art.

The video analysis of the song “The Girl From Ipanema” is one example of something that can relate to the idea of how studying a piece of art and asking questions about it can help us better understand how that piece of art makes us feel as well as it allows us to come up with a better judgement of the value of the piece of art. This is shown in how some people may feel that they personally do not enjoy the song “The Girl From Ipanema”. Because many of these people most likely have not asked questions about the song or studied the song in much detail, they are not able to fully understand the meaning so they could feel like they just don’t like the song and that there is not much value in the song. On the other hand the person in the video analysis about “The Girl From Ipanema”  had asked lots of questions and had studied the song in much more detail over a long time. I think that this had an effect on his opinion about the song and the value of the song because he was able to ask the right questions about the song and it ended up becoming something that he was interested in and a song that he enjoyed.

I think that this idea of how people are able to form opinions about a piece of art and how they are able to better understand the piece of art can relate to the topic of tase that is discussed in ” Taste for Makers”.  This essay mentions that “Saying that tase is just personal preference is a good way to prevent disputes. The trouble is, it’s not true”. I think that this quotation can connect to the idea of people forming better opinions about a piece of art when they ask the right questions because people can say that if someone likes a piece of art is just their personal opinion and that if they think that it is fine. in the same way it is mentioned in the quote it can also be considered that it is not true because without asking the right questions about a peice of art people can say that it has no value. But without asking questions and studying the piece of art when they say it has no value it is their own personal opinion but it may not exactly be true.


“The Golden Ratio: Design’s Biggest Myth”

The Golden Ratio is a staple of mathematics classes, art classes, and TOK textbooks. In this article by John Brownlee, however, he makes that case that the Golden Ratio is a load of rubbish.

. . . the idea that the golden ratio has any relationship to aesthetics at all comes primarily from two people, one of whom was misquoted, and the other of whom was just making s___ up.

Read the whole article here: .

If you want more, YouTube has a lecture by a Stanford mathematics professor, Keith Devlin, about the Golden Ratio and Fibonacci numbers. Devlin is quoted by John Brownlee in his article. (The comments on the YouTube video’s page offer some interesting case studies in why people believe what they believe.)