Can truly new ideas in art be immediately recognized as "beautiful"?

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Prof. John Maeda, a graphic designer, visual artist, and computer scientist at MIT's media lab, posted this entry on his "Simplicity" blog the other day.

"The Objectivity of Subjectivity

I have recently become aware that when a client desires you to create something "beautiful," they will make the mistake of granting you free license to explore. This will likely result in a negative outcome.

I used to dislike it when a client asked me to do something similar to a previous work. Now I am no longer bothered. It's much simpler to know what they actually want. Everyone saves time in the end.

For a client to ask for something "new" then the goal is clear. Creative folks like to do "new" things. There is a match.

But when asked for something "beautiful," the client normally has an a priori idea of what he/she considers of beauty. Thus they should come clean with what they want as it is only honest.

If they want something "new" and "beautiful" the proper response is, "How new? And how beautiful?" They should make the choice clear from the start. Because what is truly new, will always take some time for it to register as beautiful. If a deadline looms, the correct request should be for beauty (as specified in clear terms) over the danger of the new. Most people don't have enough time to figure it out in the end because we're always in such a hurry. New is something that can only be appreciated by those that do not worry about deadlines...."

Stravinsky's Right of Spring caused a riot the first time it was played precisely because it was so incredibly new. A year later, when played a second time, the piece received critical and popular acclaim. (As an interesting side note, Right of Spring was eventually thought innocuous enough to be used in Disney's Fantasia.)

Can truly new ideas in art be immediately regarded as "beautiful"?