What Makes It Art?

I once took a class on three dimensional design. No, nothing to do with vertexes, polygons, or splines. Just the application of design principles to three-dimensional space. Anyway, one of the assignments was to create an assemblage (we pronounced it aw-semme-BLAWSH,) a three-dimensional form made up of found objects (as opposed to, say, homogenous clay or papier-mâché.)

What I wanted to know (having attempted assemblage in the past,) was this. What will make my creation art and not just another random collection of debris? The answer, I was told, was the thought and care I would put into the creation of the piece. I accepted the answer, but wasn’t entirely satisfied with it.

I forgot about the question until relatively recently. That was when I saw an image on the Internet, of what must surely have been the World’s Worst Steampunk Hat. (Which I shan’t torture you with. You’re welcome.) “Look at this,” I cried to all those in the room with me. “You can’t just glue a bunch of crap to a hat and call it steampunk. What is that, there, a broken cellphone? No, no, no. It should look as though it was precisely crafted, and it should look as though it does something, and it should clearly not be electronic.”

And it was at that point that I remembered the question and answer from long before, and felt as though I finally understood it. Carelessness and lack of thought will definitely hamper, if not prevent, one’s creation from becoming art.

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