Aural Dissonance vs Visual Dissonance

Have you ever been around a little kid who is learning to play a musical instrument? Have you ever been around someone learning to play violin…or better yet, bagpipes? It is painful. And that person would never improve their craft unless someone gave them critical feedback. There is no professional career where critical discernment is not applied, and there is a distinction between good and bad, right and wrong. The visual arts is the only field that I know of where critical discernment and critique is a silent taboo. Milton Glaser designed a poster for SVA (the School of Visual Arts) that uses a René Magritte-esque reference to create a visual metaphor suggesting, “Art Is Whatever.” 

The problem is that if every discussion only recognizes the positives, then you are only having half of the dialogue – and then everything is Art. If everything is Art, what is the point? The term “Art” is far too liberally bandied about with no discernment or critiques of aesthetics or craft. So what then is the definition of “Art” and who becomes the arbiter?

Why does aural dissonance cause one to grimace, but visual dissonance is benign or even quaint? 


***For a very articulate discussion of art and aesthetics I would like to very highly recommend, Conversations With Paul Rand. Rand was/is one of the luminaries of the New York School of Design: 


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