Adaptable Art Criticism

     “Good Art” doesn't exist in peoples minds as a consistently defined entity. The discussion of art vs craft ultimately fails because the debate hinges on definitions that differ wildly over time and with geography. Defining concepts in order to measure them is a common problem in other disciplines. 
    In “Pragmatic nihilism: how a Theory of Nothing can help health psychology progress”, Peters and Crutzen present a compelling argument for a unique form of “operationalization” to understand and define “fuzzy” concepts in a contextually specific way to be measurable in terms of empirical observations.* P+C use complex mapping in their analysis of concepts, but I believe there is a way to use some of this methodology quickly and casually as a tool for art criticism and making. It seems that art making is a fundamentally goal-oriented and procedurally reasoned behavior, even when it is intuitive. It makes sense to me that objects could be analyzed in terms of the behavior that brings them about. In my understanding, the creating of an object by the producer provides an operational definition of relevant concepts, whether “art” is a concern or not. In the case of ceramic art: formal qualities, context, and discernible ideas could all represent procedural choices (physical or otherwise) that can be directly measurable with relationship to object goals. 
      For objects that adhere closely to an established school of thought, we already have well articulated operational definitions that are likely to help us leverage criticism, but these definitions are inadequate as blanket determinations for merit in emerging or underrepresented artistic procedures. It’s not completely clear to me how one should proceed, but it seems that a skepticism is warranted towards definitive claims as to what art is or should be.

       I don't think that we need to draw a line in the sand and get everyone to agree where it is. We need an enduring, adaptable and inclusive methodology that can spot new theories and integrate them for criticism quickly. Definitive theories might otherwise dismiss new streams of viable art-making or encourage adherence to theories that have lost relevance over time

Here is a link to cited essay to read online: A main criticism of the ideas presented is that this methodology could be used in bad faith as a “reassurance fetish” for mainstream beliefs.

Here is link to operationalized concept of free and fair judiciary to see how this could work in practice: